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A Historical Survey of Proposals to 

Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

1895 - 1947 

by Chaim SIMONS 

'The Zionist Crime" Collection 

Gengis Khan Publishers 
Ulaan Baator 

I nternet 2004 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

A Historical Survey of Proposals to 

Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

1895 - 1947 


Rabbi Dr. Chaim Simons 

P.O. Box 1775 

Kiryat Arba 


Tel: 02-9961252 

Copyright 1998 Chaim Simons 

Latest Revision: 3 June 2003 

First displayed on Internet by the Author in 1998. 

Gengis Khan Publishers, for the ne varietur PDF Internet edition 
Ulaan Baator, February 2004. 

CHAIM SIMONS was born in London in 1942. At the age of 20, he was awarded the 
degree of Bachelor of Science with First Class Honours in Chemistry and Physics from the 
University of London. Three years later he received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 
Chemistry from the same University. At a later date, he was awarded a Bachelor degree in 
Educational Technology. He also possesses a Rabbinical Diploma and is a qualified teacher 
with decades of experience in Education, which includes the setting and marking of 
Matriculation examinations. In addition to his books on Population Transfer, Rabbi Dr. Simons 
is also the author of a number of papers on Rabbinical subjects which have been published in 
scholarly journals, and has prepared pupils workbooks which link together religious and 
scientific knowledge. 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Who said the following? 

1) I favour compulsory transfer (of Arabs). I see nothing unethical in it. 

2) The Jews ... will help in getting Arabs out of Galilee. 

3) Palestine should be for the Jews and no Arabs should be in it. 

4) Western Palestine should be handed over completely to the Jews, clear of Arab 

For the answers, read this book... you will get some surprises!! 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 





Theodor Herzl 

Herzl's Diaries 

Interpretations of Herzl's Diary Entry 

Herzl's True Thoughts 

Herzl's Letter to Al-Khalidi 

Herzl's Charter 

David Ben-Gurion 

Ben-Gurion's Transfer Proposals 

Enthusiastic Reaction to Transfer Proposal 

Ben-Gurion's Letters to his Son Amos 

Ben-Gurion's Plan to Transfer Arabs to Iraq 

The Early 1940s 

Ben-Gurion's Path to Pragmatism 

Chaim Weizmann 

Weizmann's First Transfer Proposal 

Weizmann and the British Colonial Secretary 

Weizmann's Letters 

Weizmann's Hints at Transfer 

Meeting with Leaders of the British Labour Party 

Meeting at New Court 

Attitude of Weizmann towards Transfer 

Nachman Syrkin 

Dr. Arthur Ruppin 

Leo Motzkin 

Akiva Ettinger 

Israel Zangwill 

Zangwill Perceives Arab Problem in Palestine 

Lecture to Fabian Society 

Zangwill's Conversation with Jabotinsky 

Zangwill's Article of May 1917 

"Before the Peace Conference" 

Reactions to Zangwill's Article 

Editorial Comments in "The Jewish Chronicle" 

Lecture in Aid of War-Wounded 

"Zionism and the League of Nations" 

Zangwill's Address to Poale Zion 

Zangwill's Address to the American Jewish Congress 

Zangwill the "Most Consistent Advocate" 

Vladimir Jabotinsky 

Baron Edmond de Rothschild 

Felix Warburg 

Menachem Ussishkin 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Moshe Shertok (Sharett) 

Abraham Sharon (Schwadron) 

Berl Katznelson 

Yitzchak Tabenkin 

Dr. Jacob Thon 

Edward Norman 


Three Successive Versions of Norman's Plan 

Early Meetings 

Meetings with American Government Officials 

Bell's Second Visit to Iraq 

Unsolicited and Unwanted Help 

Norman and Rutenberg 

Attempts at a Pilot Plan 

Meeting with the British Colonial Secretary 

Further Contacts with American Officials 

Contacts with Bell 

Request by Bell for Permit to Travel to Iraq 

Change in Attitude of American Government 

Further Developments 

Remuneration to Bell 

Contacts with the American Government 

Resettlement Plan for Arab Refugees 

The Saltiel Proposal 

Emanuel Neumann 

Joseph Weitz 

Israel Sieff 

Ernst Frankenstein 

Victor Gollancz 

Eliahu Ben-Horin 

Israel Ben-Shem 


President Franklin D. Roosevelt 

Ex-President Herbert Hoover 

Hoover's Initial Proposal for Transfer 

Hoover's Statement to "World-Telegram" 

American Zionists' Reaction to Hoover Plan 

Iraqi Reactions 

Correspondence in "The New York Times" 

Meetings and Proposals on the Hoover Plan 

President Eduard Benes 

Mojli Amin, an Arab 

Ambassador William Bullitt 

High Commissioner Sir Arthur Wauchope 

Leopold Amery 

Sir Norman Angell 

Edwyn Bevan 

Ely Culbertson 

John Gunther 

Walter Clay Lowdermilk 

Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen 

Rev. Dr. James Parkes 

Reinhold Niebuhr 

Senator Claude Pepper 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Bertrand Russell . 

Harry St. John Philby 

The Plan and Initial Contacts 

Zionist Efforts 

Philby in Saudi Arabia 

Discussions with British Officials 

Discussions by the Jewish Agency Executive 

Colonel Hoskins' Visit to Saudi Arabia 

Further Discussions by the Jewish Agency Executive 

Real Attitude of Ibn Saud towards the "Philby Plan" 

The Namier-Baffy Plan 


The Report 

Jewish Agency Discusses Transfer 

Reactions of American Jewish Press 

British Government Reactions to the Peel Report 

Bonne's Memorandum 

Mapai Central Committee 

Council of "World Unity" 

British Parliamentary Debates 

Permanent Mandates Commission 

League of Nations 

Twentieth Zionist Congress 

Jewish Agency Council 

Jewish Agency Committee for Transfer of Arabs 

Jewish Agency Executive 

Material Submitted to Woodhead Commission 

Retraction of Peel Commission Recommendations 


The Resolution 

How the Palestine Paragraph was Formulated 

The Attitude of Clement Attlee to Transfer 

Reactions to the Resolution 

Zionist Reactions 

The Correspondence Columns in the "Tribune" 

Editorial Reactions in the Jewish Press 

Labour Party Conference 1944 

Change in Labour Party Policy 

The Resolution of the British Common Wealth Party 

American Resettlement Committee 
Lohamei Herut Israel (Lehi) 





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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 


BGA Ben-Gurion Archives 

CZA Central Zionist Archives 

HH Herbert Hoover Presidential Library 

ISA Israel State Archives 

LSE London School of Economics Archives 

Mapai Labour Party (Mapai) Archives 

NA National Archives Washington 

PRO Public Record Office London 

SU Sydney University Archives 

WA Weizmann Archives 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 


What do Theodor Herzl, David Ben-Gurion and Chaim Weizmann, all outstanding 
Zionist leaders, have in common with such diverse personalities as U.S. Presidents Franklin 
D. Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover and British anti-Zionist Harry St. John Philby. All these 
statesmen - and many others - have advanced proposals for the transfer of Arabs from 
Palestine. These proposals are the subject of this book. 

One is sure to ask, how and when did I become interested in such a subject? It was during 
the 1970s when I was Director of Jewish Studies at a Jewish High School in the North of 
England. This was the period when Arab students at the various British Universities began to 
utilise the campuses to propagate anti-Israel propaganda. The Jewish students at the 
Universities were the first line of Israel's defense, but at the time they had not been briefed 
on how to answer the Arab students. I therefore brought out a booklet entitled "How to Answer 
Anti-Israel Propaganda" and this booklet was used with some success on the campuses. 

Whilst researching this booklet, I came across an anti-Zionist book which devoted a 
couple of pages to show that there had been various proposals in the past to transfer Arabs 
from Palestine. I must admit, that at the time, this came as quite a surprise to me, and I 
decided that when I had some time available I would look more deeply into the question. I 
assumed that there were just a few stray statements on this subject and that after I had 
researched them, I would publish an article on the topic. 

However, after I began research in 1984, I soon discovered that it was not just "a few 
stray statements" but that the transfer of Arabs from Palestine was definite policy not only of 
the Zionist leaders, but also of many leading individual non-Jews (including some who were 
pro-Arab!), non-Jewish organisations and even some Arabs. 

The material I uncovered during my research was sufficient for a book and in 1988 my 
book "International Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine, 1895-1947, A Historical 
Survey" was published. 

There is no end to research! I therefore continued to research this subject and discovered 
additional information. This was especially so in the case of Edward Norman's transfer plan, 
and therefore at the beginning of 1991, I published an expanded version of this section of my 
book under the title "Edward Norman's Plan to Transfer Arabs from Palestine to Iraq." 
Further research merited the bringing out a supplement to my book (of 1988) and this was 
published in January 1993. 

In May 1994, 1 combined and integrated all the material appearing in my various books 
on this subject, and together with the latest material which I had researched until that time, 
brought out a book which I called "HERZL TO EDEN". 

In September 1997 I brought out "Supplement Number 1" to "Herzl to Eden". 

I have now integrated this supplement into my book which I am now putting on the 
INTERNET. As I uncover new material, I add it at the appropriate place in the book. 

This study examines the transfer proposals put forward from 1895 to 1947. 
Chronologically the earliest proposal appearing in my book was made by Theodor Herzl and 
the latest by Anthony Eden - hence the title "HERZL TO EDEN". Contemporary arguments 
both for and against the various plans are discussed, and historical background material is 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

included, with brief biographies of prominent personalities. 

The study is based almost entirely on primary sources, including hitherto unpublished 
documents obtained from archives in Israel, the United States, Great Britain and Australia. 
Diaries, memoirs, historical works, and newspaper files complement the archival material. 

The issue of population transfer is a very delicate subject. For this reason, many 
proposers confined the exposition of their ideas to diaries, private correspondence and closed 
meetings. In public they either ignored the subject of transfer or spoke against it. Even those 
who did propose various schemes were often reluctant to specifically suggest compulsory 
transfer. They relied on various euphemistic expressions to convey their intentions regarding 

I have therefore made it an important aim of this work to ascertain the private views 
of the proposers on this subject. The wording of their proposals has also been carefully 
analysed to determine whether the transfer of the Arabs from Palestine was intended to be 
compulsory or voluntary. 

One of the striking things to come to light during this research is the attempt to rewrite 
history and pretend that the Zionist leaders were completely opposed to the transfer of 
Arabs, even to the extent of censoring portions of official minutes and amending of documents! 
This rewriting is reminiscent of the Russian Encyclopaedia. After Beria's execution, the 
publishers of this encyclopaedia wrote to its subscribers, suggesting they cut out the pages 
dealing with "Beria" and in their place insert the enclosed pages on the "Bering straits" - 
which had the same alphabetical sequence! - (BERIa, BERIng). 

The reader of this book will notice that its format is closer to that of an encyclopaedia 
than a work set in an integrated historical framework. When I wrote my first book on this 
subject, I carefully weighed up these two alternative formats, and came to the conclusion that 
to keep the various transfer plans distinct, the encyclopaedic format was preferable. My 
continued research on this subject has in fact reinforced my opinion on this point. However, 
there are in fact link ups between some of the proposals which were made and these are 
pointed out in the text. 

Finally, I will be more than happy to receive comments, observations, corrections and 
further information on this subject from my readers. 

Chaim Simons 

P.O.B. 1775 

Kiryat Arba 


Tel: 02-9961252 

May 1998 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 


A work of this nature can only be achieved with the co-operation and assistance of 
hbrarians and archivists. They were almost invariably found to be most co-operative and 

Acknowledgments are due to the staff of the: 

American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati, Ohio 

American Jewish Historical Society, Waltham, Massachusetts 

Ben-Gurion Archives, Sede Boker 

Bet Lehi Archives, Tel-Aviv 

Bnei Brith, Washington D.C. 

Braham Mark (Private papers). Rose Bay, New South Wales 

British Council Library, Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv 

British Labour Party Archives, Manchester 

British Library of Political and Economic Science, London 

British Newspaper Library, London 

Central Zionist Archives and Library, Jerusalem 

Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge 

Columbia University, New York 

Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, New York 

Haifa Municipal Archives 

Hebrew University Library, Mount Scopus, Jerusalem 

Herbert Hoover Library, Iowa 

Institute for Researching the Labour Movement Library, Tel-Aviv 

Israel State Archives, Jerusalem 

Jabotinsky Archives, Tel-Aviv 

Jewish National and University Library, Jerusalem 

Kibbutz ha-Me'uhad Archives, Yad Tabenkin, Efal 

Kiryat Arba Municipal Library 

Kiryat Arba Religious School Library 

Labour Party, London 

Labour Party (Mapai) Archives, Bet Berl, Kfar Saba 

Lehi Archives, Tel-Aviv 

Library of Congress, Washington D.C. 

Liverpool Trades Council Archives 

Marks and Spencer Archives, London 

National Archives, Washington D.C. 

Nuffield College, Oxford 

Princeton University Library, New Jersey 

Public Record Office, London 

Sydney University Library 

Tel-Aviv University Library 

Temple, Cleveland, Ohio 

Weizmann Archives, Rehovot 

Zionist Archives, New York 

sf sf sf sf sf sf sf 

Throughout this book the term "Palestine" has been used for Eretz-Israel. No 
ideological or political significance should be inferred from this. 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 


The era of "Modern Zionism" can be said to have begun towards the end of the 19th 
century with the "Hovevei Zion", the "First Aliyah", and Theodor Herzl. 

In one of the first entries in his private diary dated June 1895, (even before he had 
decided on the final location of the Jewish State), Herzl wrote that it would be necessary to 
remove the non-Jews from such a state. Herzl apparently realised that it would not be prudent 
to publicise such an idea, since there is not a hint of it in his famous book "The Jewish State", 
which was published just a few months later. 

In contrast, Nachman Syrkin, who was one of the founders of "Socialist Zionism", had 
no inhibitions about making public the possibility of transfer of Arabs from Palestine, and 
such a proposal appears in his booklet published in 1898. 

In the same year, Herzl visited Palestine and saw the country at first hand. A few years 
later in his unpublished "Draft Charter" for Palestine he wrote that the Jews would have the 
right to transfer Arabs to other parts of the Ottoman Empire. Another person to visit 
Palestine at that period was the Anglo-Jewish writer Israel Zangwill, who, after a few years 
reflection, proposed such transfer in lectures which he gave in the U.S.A. and Britain in 1904 
and 1905. One should note that the public pronouncements on this question by both Syrkin and 
Zangwill did not give rise to any adverse comments. 

At this period, the Zionist movement was still in its infancy and proposals for transfer 
were made by only a few individuals, particularly Zangwill. Following the rejection of 
Uganda as the location for a Jewish Homeland in 1905, Zangwill left the Zionist movement, 
and it seems that no further proposals for Arab transfer were put forward for a number of 

It was in the early 1910s that two leading Zionists, Arthur Ruppin and Leo Motzkin put 
forward transfer proposals, the former in a private letter and the latter in the course of a 
lecture to a Conference of German Zionists which was subsequently published in a German 
Jewish newspaper. However, the main proposer of transfer at this period was Zangwill, who, 
after he had returned to the Zionist fold, wrote a number of articles and delivered a number of 
lectures on this subject. 

At the end of 1918, following one of Zangwill's articles, a public condemnation of his 
proposals by several prominent Anglo-Jews, appeared for the first time in the British-Jewish 
press. One should remember, however, that this was the period of the Balfour Declaration. A 
number of prominent Anglo-Jews from families who were well-established in Britain, were 
vigorously opposed to the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine and as a 
result of their efforts, the final text of the Balfour Declaration was less favourable to the 
Zionist aspirations. The Anglo-Jews publicly opposing Zangwill's transfer proposals largely 
came from these well-established families. To their great credit, the press did not prevent 
Zangwill from using their columns to propagate his ideas on Arab transfer - "freedom of 
expression" was sacred at that period! 

Following the termination of the First World War, Fridtjof Nansen, proposed a 
compulsory transfer of population between Greece and Turkey involving nearly two million 
people and this proposal was subsequently implemented by the League of Nations. The success 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

of this population exchange and the resultant friendly relations between Greece and Turkey, 
gave a "boost" to the solution of population exchange to solve regional problems and this 
example was later to be used in proposing Arab transfer from Palestine. 

Apart from some further proposals (one of them quite drastic!) by Zangwill in the early 
1920s, no further proposals seem to have been made until about 1930. 

In 1929, there were serious Arab pogroms in many places in Palestine, resulting in the 
murder of well over a hundred Jews and this made the transfer of Arabs from Palestine more 
attractive to the Jewish and even non-Jewish public. 

The original Mandate for Palestine had included the area of Transjordan. However, in 
order to solve inter-Arab feuding, the provisions of the Mandate over the area of Transjordan 
were suspended and Zionist colonisation was forbidden there. These factors led in 1930 to a 
number of proposals being made to transfer Arabs, to Transjordan. These included proposals by 
bodies such as the Jewish National Fund (J.N. P.), by individuals such as Weizmann and Ben- 
Gurion, and by non-Jews, such as Drummond Shiels who was then British Assistant Colonial 
Secretary. Such transfer was particularly suggested for those Arabs in Western Palestine who 
were living on land being purchased by the Zionists. In fact, even before this time such Arabs 
were often transferred. Many Kibbutzim of "Hashomer Hazair", an extreme left-wing 
movement, who would publicly vehemently condemn Arab transfer, were established on land 
from which Arabs had been transferred! 

One person connected with Arab transfer, who until quite recently had hardly been 
heard of, was an American Jew named Edward Norman. Norman made a very strong principle 
of not letting his name be publicised in connection with his transfer proposal. Only when 
Weizmann 's letters and Ben-Gurion's memoirs began to be published, did people see the name 
of Edward Norman and his transfer proposal. Norman worked on his plan to transfer Arabs 
from Palestine to Iraq, from 1933 onwards for about 15 years. Without doubt, there is more 
archival material on Norman's plan than on any other transfer plan on the subject. In the 
course of his endeavours Norman regularly met or corresponded with the high echelons in 
both the British and U.S. administrations and also with the top Zionist leaders. 

In 1936, a campaign of Arab terrorism began, considerably disrupting life in Palestine. 
This resulted in the British Government's setting up of a Royal Commission comprising six 
highly respected gentlemen under the chairmanship of Lord Peel. After visiting Palestine 
and taking evidence from over one hundred witnesses, they returned to England to produce 
their Report, which was unanimous and consisted of over 400 pages. Amongst their 
recommendations was the transfer of Arabs from the proposed Jewish State. For the Arabs 
living in the Plains of Palestine, such transfer could be compulsory. 

The British Government found themselves in general agreement with the 
recommendations of this Commission and they made no objections whatsoever to the 
compulsory transfer proposal. 

The Peel Commission recommendations were thoroughly debated in a number of forums 
both Jewish and non-Jewish. Some of the Zionist leaders also confided their secret thoughts on 
the subject to their private diaries and in confidential correspondence and closed meetings. 
Their comments on compulsory transfer were interesting: 

Ben-Gurion's observations in his private diary on compulsory transfer were extremely 
enthusiastic and he stressed the importance of Arab transfer from the Jewish State. 
Weizmann in his letters and meetings of that period displayed a similar enthusiasm on this 
subject. At the 20th Zionist Congress which took place about a month after the publication of 
this Report, many of the participants spoke in favour of transfer, although when the 
"official" minutes were published, many of their comments on transfer were omitted! Berl 
Katznelson, who was known as the "conscience" of the Jewish Labour Party, spoke up strongly 
in favour of transfer at a meeting of the "Council of World Unity" (the amalgamated Zionist 
Socialist parties) held a few weeks before the 20th Zionist Congress. In contrast, Jabotinsky, 
leader of the Revisionist movement came out very strongly against transfer. This in fact had 
been his stand for decades. 

When debated in the British Parliament, several members of Parliament, who were 
members of the pro-Arab lobby, came out in favour of, and even exceeded, the 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

recommendations of the Commission on the question of Arab transfer. They realised that an 
Arab presence in a Jewish State would be undesirable and cause friction in the future. 

In November 1937, the Jewish Agency set up a Committee for Transfer of Arabs and 
during the course of the following seven months this Committee regularly met, and assembled 
information and statistical data, in order to work out a programme for the compulsory transfer 
of Arabs from Palestine. 

In the summer of 1937, the Arabs in Palestine resumed and even intensified their acts of 
terror and assassinations and the British Government began a policy "to extricate 
themselves" from the recommendations of the Peel Commission. They began by stating in a 
"Despatch" dated December 1937 that they had in no way accepted the recommendation of 
the Peel Commission on compulsory transfer! This was a complete revision of history, and 
furthermore, early drafts of this very same "Despatch" did not contain this "disclaimer" on 
compulsory transfer!! 

One should note that even after the British Government had retracted from the 
acceptance of compulsory transfer, the Jewish Agency Committee on Transfer continued to 
prepare plans for compulsory transfer 

To complete their retraction from the Peel Commission recommendations, the British 
Government set up a new Commission under Sir John Woodhead - wags called it the "Re-Peal" 
Commission!! This Commission's resultant Report was followed by a White Paper very 
severely limiting Jewish immigration to Palestine. 

Although at this period, the British Government became vehemently anti-transfer of 
Arabs, the U.S. Government was moving in the opposite direction. This can be illustrated by 
the reactions of officials of the U.S. government who were doing all they could to help 
Edward Norman advance his transfer plan, whilst at the same time British officials were 
doing all they could to squelch it. However, in all fairness, one must remember that whereas 
the British Government was the Mandatory Power with the responsibility to maintain order, 
the American Government could stand on the sidelines and watch! Even the American 
President, Franklin D. Roosevelt at that period came out strongly in favour of Arab transfer. 

Although the British Government were then strongly opposed to transfer, it is 
interesting to note that Sir Harold MacMichael, who was the British High Commissioner for 
Palestine, and could thus see the situation at first hand, was in favour of Arab transfer. 

Another interesting phenomenon of the late 1930s and early 1940s was the conviction of 
some pro-Arabists that the transfer of Arabs from Palestine was the only solution to the Arab- 
Jewish conflict. The classic example is that of the pro-Arabist Harry St. John Philby, who 
worked for several years on his plan (enthusiastically supported by top members of the 
Zionist leadership) to transfer almost all the Arabs from Palestine. Philby had several 
meetings with King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia to try to persuade him to accept such a plan. 
Some historians suggest that at the beginning of the Second World War, the King was in 
favour of this plan. Even an Arab, Mojli Amin who was a member of the Arab Defense 
Committee for Palestine, put forward his own memorandum advocating Arab transfer. 

Towards the end of the 1930s, Iraq completed an irrigation system but was sadly lacking 
in population. It thus became a popular destination for potential Arab transferees from 
Palestine. Amongst those proposing Iraq, was Ben-Gurion, who in 1938-39 often put forward 
the idea of Arab transfer to that country. Support for this plan of Ben-Gurion's came from, 
amongst others, the Hadassah Executive of America. 

Another plan worked on in 1939 and discussed in earnest by the Zionist leadership and 
the Druze was the transfer of the Druze from Palestine to the area Jebel Druse in Syria. 

Towards the end of 1939, the Second World War began, and already at the beginning of 
1942, reports of the mass murder of European Jewry began to reach the West. Possibly due to 
this fact, many non-Jews began to speak out in public or publish articles in favour of the 
transfer of Arabs from Palestine. Prominent Jews also came out in favour, although generally 
they would only do so in closed forums! Even some members of "Brit Shalom" who outwardly 
advocated a Bi-National (Jewish-Arab) State in Palestine proposed voluntary Arab transfer 
from Palestine. 

At the beginning of the Second World War, there was a split in the Revisionist 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

movement with the formation of Lehi. The views of Lehi regarding transfer did not follow 
the line of the main-stream Revisionists, and they included in their "Principles of 
Renaissance" one which advocated the transfer of the "stranger" from Palestine. 

However, even the main-stream Revisionists, who until this time had followed 
Jabotinsky's strong opposition to transfer (although some historians now suggest that in 
private he supported transfer) began to change their views on this subject. A committee known 
as the "American Resettlement Committee" was established (at the same address as the 
American Revisionists Headquarters!) and in 1943 they placed a whole-page advertisement 
in the "New York Times" proposing the transfer of Arabs from Palestine. Furthermore, during 
the 1940s, the Revisionists endorsed the principle of Arab transfer, certainly on a voluntary 

Although a number of prominent Jews and non-Jews were publicly coming out in favour of 
Arab transfer during the Second World War, at this period, the positive attitude of the U.S. 
administration to this question underwent a change. Edward Norman found that the 
enthusiasm of the U.S. Government towards transfer in the late 1930s had completely 
evaporated by 1942. Possibly the oil factor of the Middle East which was rapidly becoming 
more significant during the course of the Second World War was a reason for this. However, 
one should mention that throughout this period President Roosevelt would periodically make 
statements to his senior officials which were very strongly in favour of compulsory Arab 
transfer from Palestine. 

Also during the latter part of the war, former U.S. President Herbert Hoover 
(encouraged privately by leading American Zionists) began to propose the transfer of Arabs. 
Towards the end of 1945, in a bout of enthusiasm, he prepared a statement on this question 
which was sent to hundreds of American newspapers. However, to his annoyance very few 
indeed deigned to publish it, and those who did were mainly the New York Yiddish press. 

On the other side of the Atlantic, about a year and a half before the end of the Second 
World War, the British Labour Party commissioned one of its members, Hugh Dalton, to 
prepare a document on "Labour and the International Post-War Settlement". In this document, 
Dalton included a section on Palestine which included a paragraph "encouraging" Arabs to 
leave Palestine. This document was examined by the various committees and sub-committees 
of the Party and was finally passed at the Annual Party Conference of 1944 with almost no 
opposition. Encouraging Arabs to leave Palestine thus became part of the Party's policy and it 
remained as such until after the general election of 1945, when the Labour Party was elected 
to power in a landslide victory. In commenting on this Labour Party resolution in public, the 
Zionist leaders said that transfer of Arabs was "inconsistent with the Zionist programme". 
However, from a study of their private opinions which are now open to historians, one can see 
that they were quite happy with this transfer proposal! The Jewish Press in Britain and in 
the U.S. were on the whole favourable to the paragraph advocating Arab transfer. 

Following the Labour Party victory in 1945, Ernest Bevin was appointed Foreign 
Secretary. The senior civil servants in the Foreign Office who had a long tradition of anti- 
Zionism, succeeded in persuading Bevin to continue with the policy of the White Paper, 
rather than implementing the terms of this Resolution. 

The years following the Second World War saw a deterioration in the situation in 
Palestine. Finally the matter was turned over to the United Nations who sent an 
international committee to Palestine and on 29 November 1947 the U.N. voted on the 
establishment of a Jewish State in Palestine. 

From this period until the establishment of the State of Israel in May 1948 and also 
during the months that followed, about half a million Arabs left, some by their own free- 
will, others being driven out by the Jews. Until this day, debates and arguments continue on 
allowing these Arabs to return. 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 



— 15 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 


Theodor Herzl, father of political Zionism and founder of the World Zionist 
Organisation was born in 1860. Following his general education, Herzl studied law in Vienna. 
However, a year after gaining his doctorate, he began a career in journalism. 

The growth of anti-Semitism in France stirred Herzl's interest in the Jewish problem 
and the Dreyfus case convinced him that the only solution was for the Jews to leave the 
various anti-Semitic countries in which they resided and be resettled in a country of their 
own. He therefore decided to apply himself to the realisation of this ideal. 

Herzl's Diaries 

Herzl had kept a diary as a young lawyer in the 1880s, but in May 1895, he started 
keeping a diary devoted entirely to the Jewish cause. 

On 12 June 1895, Herzl confided to his diary his programme for the removal of the 
indigenous non-Jewish population from the Jewish State and the expropriation of private 
property by the Jewish State. 

In those days, countries consisted of the few rich landowners and the multitude of poor, 
and Herzl had plans for each of these classes of population. With regard to the landowners, 
Herzl wrote in his diary: "When we occupy the land, we shall bring immediate benefits to 
the state that receives us. We must expropriate gently, the private property on the estates 
assigned to us." (^) For the remainder of the population, he wrote in his diary on the same 
day: "We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border by procuring 
employment for it in the transit countries whilst denying it any employment in our own 
country." (^) We can thus see that the means Herzl envisaged to transfer non-Jews out of the 
Jewish State, was to deny them sources of livelihood in the Jewish State, and find them 
employment elsewhere. 

In the above extract, it is noticable that Herzl did not use the words "Palestine" or 
"Arabs". As can be seen from his book "The Jewish State" (Der Judenstaat) which was also 
written (or at least drafted) in the summer of 1895, Herzl had not yet decided on the final 
location of the Jewish State. "Shall we choose Palestine or Argentina?" wrote Herzl, and 
listed the advantages of each of these two locations. C) Although Herzl did not state this in 
his book, Argentina may have suggested itself to him, because of the then recent purchase by 
Baron Maurice de Hirsch of a very large tract of land in Argentina to resettle three million 
Jews. At that time, Herzl was trying to interest Hirsch in his ideas. However, we are mainly 
interested in Herzl's plan "to spirit the penniless (indigenous) population across the border." 

Herzl was also vague about the "transit countries" to which the non-Jewish poor would 
be spirited. One of Herzl's biographers, Desmond Stewart, analyses this term in connection 
with both Argentina and Palestine. In the case of the former, Stewart comments, "There are no 
transit countries, only an ocean between Western Europe (where Herzl envisaged the Jewish 
migration as starting) and the coast of Latin America." With regard to Palestine, there would 
also be no "transit countries" since Herzl (from an entry in his diary) envisaged the settlers 
arriving at Jaffa by ship. Hence Stewart concludes, "All that is clear is that most of the 
natives will have to leave." (*) 

Herzl realised that secrecy and discretion were necessary to put these ideas into 
practice. His diary entry thus continues, "The property-owners will come over to our side. 
Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly 

/ Theodor Herzl, Handwritten Diary entry 12 lune 1895, (CZA H ii B i) ; The Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzl, 
trans. Harry Zohn, (New York, 1960), (henceforth Herzl Diaries), vol.1, p.88. 
2 / ) Ibid. ; Ibid. 

/ Theodor Herzl, The Jewish State, trans. Sylvie D'Avigdor, (London, 1946), (henceforth Herzl Jewish State), p.30. 
* / Desmond Stewart, Theodor Herzl, (London, 1974), pp.191-92. 

— 16 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

and circumspectly. Let the owners of immovable property believe that they are cheating us, 
selling us things for more than they are worth. But we are not going to sell them anything 
back." (1) 

Herzl described his methods of expropriation. "The voluntary expropriation will be 
accomplished through our secret agents. The Company would pay excessive prices." Herzl was 
determined that once property had been acquired it would be retained in the hands of the 
Jews. "We shall then sell only to Jews, and all real estate will be traded only among Jews," he 
said. As a qualified lawyer, Herzl realised that he would not be able to declare sales to non- 
Jews invalid. He therefore took precautions to avoid resale to non-Jews, as he wrote, "If the 
owner wants to sell the property, we shall have the right to buy it back at our original sale 
price." (^) 

Herzl realised that some property owners would, for sentimental reasons, be reluctant to 
part with their properties and in such cases these people "will be offered a complete 
transportation to any place they wish, like our own people. This offer will be made only when 
all others have been rejected." (') 

The phrase "like our own people" is amplified by Herzl in his book "The Jewish State", 
where he explains how the "Jewish Company" will arrange the exchange of non-transferable 
goods of Jews moving to the Jewish State. "For a house it will offer a house in the new country, 
and for land, land in the new country; everything being, if possible, transferred to the new soil 
in the same state as it was in the old." C) Thus we can see, that in Herzl's programme, as 
propounded in his diary, "in the last instance" non-Jewish estate owners in the Jewish State 
would be offered equivalent housing and land outside the area of the Jewish State. 

Herzl says that in the case of the estate owners not accepting this offer, no harm would 
be done to them. The Jewish State would "set the entire old world a wonderful example" since 
the Jewish leaders would "respectfully tolerate persons of other faiths and protect their 
property, their honor, and their freedom with the harshest means of coercion." (') 

However, on the same day that he wrote the above, Herzl also noted down in his diary, 
several unpleasant and dangerous tasks for "the natives" prior to their transfer: "If we move 
into a region where there are wild animals to which Jews are not accustomed - big snakes etc. - 
I shall use the natives, prior to giving them employment in the transit countries, for the 
extermination of these animals. High premiums for snake skins, etc, as well as their spawn." 


During the subsequent days, Herzl wrote an "Address to the Rothschilds" (which was to 
be the first draft of his book "The Jewish State"). Here, however, he omitted to mention the 
tasks for "the natives"! (') A few months later in January 1896, Herzl wrote an article in "The 
Jewish Chronicle" of London entitled a "Solution to the Jewish Question" (*) and in February 
his book was published. In neither of these works did Herzl suggest using the indigenous 
peoples to rid the country of its wild beasts! "Supposing, for example, we were obliged to clear 
a country of wild beasts", wrote Herzl, "we should organise a large and lively hunting party, 
drive the animals together and throw a melinite bomb into their midst." (') 

Even if it is suggested that Herzl's diary entry proposing the use of "natives" to clear 
the country of snakes and wild beasts, was merely recognition of their superior skills at such 
tasks, the question remains as to why this solution was not proposed in his book, (which was 
written at about the same period), omitting, if desired, the phrase regarding "the natives'" 
subsequent transfer. 

/ Herzl, Handwritten Diary entry 12 June 1895, op. cit. Herzl Diaries, vol.1, p.88. 

/ Ibid. ; Ibid., p.89. 

/ Ibid. ; Ibid., p.90. 

/ Herzl Jewish State, p.34. 

/ Herzl, Handwritten Diary entry 12 June 1895, op. cit. ; Herzl Diaries, vol.1, p.88. 

/ Ibid. ; Ibid., p.98. 

/ Herzl Diaries, vol.1, pp. 129-83. 

/ Theodor Herzl, A "Solution of the Jewish Question", The Jewish Chronicle, (London), 17 January 1896, p. 12. 

/ Herzl Jewish State, pp.28-29. 

— 17 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Interpretations of Herzl's Diary Entry 

Up to the 1970s, the various biographers of Herzl had been unaware of (or had 
suppressed!) Herzl's transfer plans. The first biographer to discuss them was Desmond 
Stewart, whose book entitled "Theodor Herzl" was published in 1974. 

In attempting to analyse Herzl's approach to the non-Jewish inhabitants of the 
proposed Jewish State, Stewart linked Herzl's thoughts on "how to obtain the territorial 
basis for a (Jewish) state with British actions in Africa." 

It must be remembered that this was the period when European powers, especially 
Britain, were acquiring colonies in the African continent. Herzl had studied the methods used 
by Cecil Rhodes, the British Empire builder to separate certain African tribes from control of 
their land. Stewart considered that "Herzl's stencil for obtaining a territory and clearing it 
for settlement was cut after the Rhodesian model" but added that "one problem - that of the 
native population - presented itself in a more urgent form to Herzl than to Rhodes." He 
explained that this was due to Herzl's envisaging the settling of "millions of Jews" in the 
Jewish State "all at once", whereas the settlement of Rhodesia "would be limited and over a 
protracted period", since Britain already had many "Homes". (^) 

Stewart is not completely accurate here, since Herzl had written in "The Jewish State" 
that the departure of the Jews from their countries of residence would not be sudden. "It will", 
he said, "be gradual, continuous and will cover many decades." (^) However, it is certainly 
correct, that whereas the Jews were to have only the one Home, the British already had 
many colonies. 

Stewart considered that from the reference books, almost certainly available in his 
Paris newspaper office, Herzl was fully aware of the extent of the non-Jewish population in 
Palestine, when on 12 June 1895, he devoted many pages in his diary to his plans for the 
removal of the natives. C) 

The historian Joseph Nedava disagreed with Stewart, whom he described as a "hostile 
biographer" (of Herzl). In his study, "Herzl and the Arab Problem", Nedava rejected 
Stewart's suggestion that Herzl was basing his plan for the indigenous population on the 
African model. Instead, Nedava, in explaining the phrase "to spirit the penniless population 
across the border", argued that Herzl realised that if he were to be faced with a "landless 
proleteriat in a newly developing colonising project" it would be "highly dangerous" and 
would "lead to catastrophe." Herzl was therefore "not adverse to driving the principle to its 
logical conclusion and entertain the idea of evacuating the landless to another country after 
providing for their integration there." The expropriation of private property was in order to 
"avoid ruinous speculation." (*) 

Stewart, however, had largely based his "Rhodesian Model" theory on the meeting 
between Herzl and Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1898. (^) Of this meeting, the Kaiser wrote (in his 
unpublished memoirs), that Herzl's blueprints for large-scale settlement in Palestine would 
"culminate in a plan to create a 'Jewish Chartered Company' for Palestine patterned after the 
'British Chartered Company in South Africa'." (^) Nedava made no attempt to explain the 
Kaiser's remarks. 

The "British Chartered Company in South Africa", (British South Africa Company), 
governed part of south Central Africa and amongst its objects was "to encourage emigration 
and colonisation". It received a Royal Charter from Queen Victoria in October 1889, at the 
instigation of Cecil Rhodes, who became its managing director. 

Stewart pointed out that whereas Rhodes gained Royal support in legalising his 
colonisation methods in Africa, Herzl forsaw that the extreme measures he advocated in 

/ Stewart, Theodor Herzl, op. cit., pp. 188-91. 
2 / Herzl Jewish State, p.28. 

/ Stewart, Theodor Herzl, op. cit., p. 191. 

/ Joseph Nedava, "Herzl and the Arab Problem", Forum (on the Jewish People, Zionism and Israel), (Jerusalem), no.2 
(27), 1977, p.69. 

/ Stewart, Theodor Herzl, op. cit., p. 188. 

/ Alex Bein, "Memoirs and Documents about Herzl's Meetings with the Kaiser", Herzl Year Book, vol.6, (New York, 
1965), p.61. 

— 18 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

planning colonisation in the Jewish State would "temporarily alienate civilised opinion." (i) 
He wrote in his diary, "At first, incidentally, people will avoid us. We are in bad odor." 
Herzl realised however, that this unpleasantness would only be a transient phenomenon and 
was worth the price. He then added, "By the time of reshaping of world opinion in our favor 
has been completed, we shall be firmly established in our country, no longer fearing the influx 
of foreigners, and receiving our visitors with aristocratic benevolence and proud amicability." 


In his book "The Jewish State", Herzl had propounded a similar idea regarding the 
Jews from the Jewish State returning to their previous countries of residence. He wrote, "If 
some of them (Jews) return, they will receive the same favourable welcome and treatment at 
the hands of civilised nations as is accorded to all foreign visitors." (^) 

Stewart's biography of Herzl was carefully researched and during the period 1971-72, 
he exchanged a considerable amount of correspondence with Mark Braham, a man who had 
written about Herzl in his book "Jews Don't Hate". A number of these letters dealt with 
Herzl's plans for the transfer of the indigenous population from the proposed Jewish State. 

Although Braham would describe himself as an "anti— Zionist", (^) the Press Officer of 
the British Zionist Federation wrote to him giving a different assessment: "You certainly 
present our case extremely eloquently and as a Zionist 1 find there are only a very few trivial 
and minor points on which 1 would disagree with you." (^) 

This exchange of correspondence began in March 1971, when Stewart wrote to Braham 
telling him that Braham's "interpretation of the character and motivation of Herzl was 
similar" to his, and Stewart thus wanted to consult with him whilst preparing his book. This 
put Braham in a quandary. On the one hand, since Stewart was not sympathetic towards 
Zionism, non-cooperation could lead to Stewart producing "a work that was bound to be 
slanted against Zionism and Israel." On the other hand, cooperation might possibly "be an 
influence of moderation on what might otherwise become an unbalanced and dangerous work." 
Braham chose the second alternative and when Stewart's book was published realised that 
he had made the right choice. (^) 

Stewart would send Braham typescript of the various chapters of his book when they 
were ready, which he would then read. However, Braham commented that after he had read 
the chapter dealing with Herzl's transfer proposals, he read no more of the typescript. As 
Braham said, "1 began to feel that my position was untenable. 1 found myself in the position 
where 1 became counsel for the defence for Herzl in a desperate search to explain the entries." 
(') As we shall see, in course of the following months Braham kept putting forward different 
reasons in his correspondence with Stewart, in order to try and play down or talk away 
Herzl's transfer plans. 

Stewart finished in "rough draft" the chapter dealing with Herzl's transfer plans in 
early May 1972, and presumably immediately sent Braham a copy. On 18 May Braham gave 
Stewart the following answer to Herzl's transfer plans: He felt that Herzl was "not concerned 
with shifting the Arabs as such; his concern is to shift the poor and he fully expects the 
'property owners' to 'come over to our side'. This fits neatly into his basic plan to destroy the 
Jew and create a new nation, a middle class paradise, liberal, secular and European. He had 
no use for the Arab tribesmen, not because they were Arabs, but because they were gypsies." (^) 

Just over a week later, (it seems that he had not yet received Braham's letter), Stewart 
asked in a postscript, "Are there any Talmudic quotations ruling out the kind of policy of force 

/ Stewart, Theodor Herzl, op. cit., p. 192. 

/ Herzl, Handwritten Diary entry 12 June 1895, op. cit. ; Herzl Diaries, pp.88-89. 
3 / Herzl Jewish State, p.20. 
^ I Braham to Stewart, 31 July 1972, (SU). 
^ / Jacobs to Braham, 31 October 1973, (SU). 

/ "Theodor Herzl: Artist and Politician" A paper by Mark Braham as presented to the Adult Jewish Study Circle, Rose 
Bay, New South Wales Australia, for Discussion on 14 and 28 May 1974 (henceforth Paper), p.l, (papers of Mark 
7 / Ibid., p.2. 
^ / Braham to Stewart, "Around Pentecost" (18 May) 1972, (SU). 

— 19 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

& deception which Herzl assumed would be necessary for deahng with the 'natives' - 
whether in Argentina or Palestine?" {^) There is no record of Braham answering this question! 

In early July 1972, Braham went to Jews' College Library in London to look up Herzl's 
diary, in particular the reference for 12 June 1895 - the date that Herzl had proposed transfer. 
He informed Stewart that the impression that he got from these diary entries was that 
"Herzl was simply setting down a formula in the abstract for setting up a state in a territory 
inhabited by 'natives'," and that his attitude towards non-Europeans was the typical 19th 
century European attitude with Herzl being a typical example. (^) In a paper presented by 
Braham to an Adult Jewish Study Circle in New South Wales, Australia in May 1974, he 
brought further evidence of this attitude, by mentioning a case in 1837, just a generation prior 
to Herzl, where "the Australian responsible for the Myall Creek murders had pleaded in 
court that they did not know it was against the law to shoot aborigines." (^) 

Stewart in his book had compared Herzl to Rhodes, but Braham held that Herzl had 
"an immense respect for the rule of law" and this fact set him above Rhodes. (*) However, 
support for this assessment by Stewart comes from the biography of Herzl by Jacob de Haas, 
who personally knew and worked with Herzl. In this biography we see that Herzl was in fact 
an admirer and supporter of Rhodes's ideas. (') 

Later in his letter, Braham considered that Herzl's "scheme to buy the land at excessive 
prices and in secrecy" was "the classic ploy of property developers and businesses whose stock 
in trade is to pay what appears to be a handsome price for a piece of land without disclosing 
its true potential. My conclusion is that Herzl was a coloniser, certainly; there is no doubt he 
intended to create a state over the heads of the indigenous population - but by stealth rather 
than force of arms." (^) 

In his reply to this letter, Stewart wrote that he agreed with almost everything 
Braham wrote on this subject in his letter, adding "but it is also very close to what I wrote!" 


Braham had realised his limitations and thus searched for a Jewish scholar who could 
advise him "about problems" beyond his "limited capacity". (*) The scholar he found was 
Bruno Marmorstein,(') who at that time was Chairman of the Board of Governors of Jews' 
College, and a few weeks earlier with the "willing cooperation" of Stewart ('") had passed 
on to him the typescript for an opinion. Before reading Stewart's draft, Marmorestein had 
"been ignorant of the existence of these entries (as 99 Jews out of every 100 undoubtedly 
are)." (^^ ) Braham also commented that he himself did not really believe they existed until 
he had checked it out a few weeks earlier. He had in the past put down the rumours he had 
heard about such entries to the "propaganda of the kind one associates with anti- 
Semites." C^) 

In his reply, Stewart wrote that he was not surprised "that Bruno Marmorstein and 99% 
of Jews everywhere are ignorant of the passage about spiriting the poor across the frontiers." 
He then went on to try and link Herzl's transfer schemes with "the whole series of laws 
passed by the Zionist state immediately after the 1948 exodus. Laws by which even 
temporarily abandoned property was made over to Israel; laws by which whole areas were 
proclaimed military zones and the Arabs moved out 'for security reasons'; you must read Sabri 

^ / Stewart to Braham, 26 May 1972, (SU). 
2 / Braham to Stewart, 6 July 1972, (SU). 

/ Paper, p. 3 ; Mark Braham, "Some skeletons in the Zionist Cupboard", Jewish Tribune, (London), 27 December 1974, 
* /Braham to Stewart, 6 July 1972, op. cit. 

/ Jacob de Haas, Theodor Herzl, A Biographical Study, vol. ii, (Chicago, 1927), p.38. 
^ / Braham to Stewart, 6 July 1972, op. cit. 
^ / Stewart to Braham, 21 July 1972, (SU). 
^ /Paper, p. 1. 

^ / Braham to Stewart, 6 July 1972, (SU). 
^° I Paper, p.3. 

" / Braham to Stewart, 19 July 1972, (SU). 
/ Paper, p.3 ; Jewish Tribune, op. cit. 

— 20 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Jirjis for this; he is an Israeli Arab lawyer who gives all the details of operations which are 
in the spirit of Herzl's diaries." (^) 

On receiving this letter from Stewart, Braham wrote to David Jacobs, Press Officer of 
the British Zionist Federation, bringing these quotes from Herzl's diary and Stewart's 
argument that "the Arab refugee problem has its origins in Herzl's Diaries." (^) He felt 
confident that Jacobs "had come across these entries in the Diaries and had some explanation 
- perhaps a mistranslation or ambiguity." (^) Braham certainly did not expect the answer 
which Jacobs immediately sent him: "I feel it is very unlikely that these quotes [from Herzl's 
diaries] are in fact genuine." (*) 

In a letter to Stewart, Braham reported on his correspondence with Jacobs adding, "His 
reply, enclosed, will astonish you as much as it did me, I am sure. When I said that 99 out of 
every 100 Jews would not be aware of this material it was a serious underestimate. Imagine, 
the PR officer of what is probably the second most important Zionist Federation in the world 
doubts the validity of the quotes. And this is perfectly genuine, quite obviously." He then 
commented on the success of the suppression of these quotes from Herzl's diary: "I really did 
not suspect that the efforts of the Zionist editors had been quite so successful: I once remarked, 
half jokingly ... that there certainly was a Zionist conspiracy - against the Jews! I begin to 
think so on this score." (^) 

Several months later, Braham reported to Jacobs how he was "approaching the problem 
of some of these outrageous entries in the Herzl Diaries." He argued that modern Zionism 
began half a century before Herzl. Herzl's grandfather Simon Loeb Herzl had been a member 
of Rabbi Alkalai's congregation in Semlin and the source of his Zionism was in fact from his 
grandfather. When Theodor Herzl came on the scene, Zionism was already a worldwide 
movement. Braham argued that "Herzl was something of an irresponsible artist and much of 
his Diary contains ill-considered, almost idle, jottings. ... The Zionist movement should 
consider cutting Herzl down to size: the alternative is to risk having these entries thrown up 
as 'inspired words of the prophet'." (^) 

In 1989, Shabtai Teveth came to a different conclusion from Braham regarding Herzl's 
plans for Arab transfer: "In retrospect it appears perfectly logical that this notion of an all- 
encompassing Jewish transfer in Herzl's thinking would be accompanied - if only for the sake 
of symmetry - by a parallel and just as comprehensive a transfer or 'evacuation' of Arabs." C) 
If in fact Teveth's reasoning is correct, Herzl "for the sake of symmetry" would have included 
Arab transfer in his published book "The Jewish State", in the same way as he included 
Jewish transfer. However, as we know, Herzl "hid" his plans for Arab transfer in the pages of 
his private diary! 

Herzl's True Thoughts 

Do Herzl's diaries accurately reflect his thoughts? An article written by Harry Zohn, 
the English translator of his diaries, clearly gives a definite affirmative answer. Zohn 
writes that the Herzl diaries are a "remarkably frank record of the incorruptible, outspoken 
Herzl who detested dissimulation and self-deception and who noted on the very first pages 
that his diary entries would be valueless if he attempted to play the hypocrite with 
himself. The Diaries are therefore a voluminous and unblushing compendium of Herzl's 
triumphs and tragedies, not merely in the arena of world politics but on a personal plane as 
well, presenting Herzl from within." (^) Similar views are expressed by Alex Bein in his 

/ Stewart to Braham, 22 luly 1972, (SU). 

/ Braham to Jacobs, 27 July 1972, (SU). 

/ Paper, p.3; Jewish Tribune, op. cit. 

/ Jacobs to Braham, 28 July 1972, (SU). 

/ Braham to Stewart, 31 July 1972, op. cit. 
" / Braham to Jacobs, 16 October 1972, (SU). 

/ Shabtai Teveth, The Evolution of "Transfer" in Zionist Thinking, (Tel Aviv, 1989), p.2 ; Ha'aretz, (Tel-Aviv), 23 
September 1988, p.5 bet. 
^ / Harry Zohn, "The Herzl Diaries", Herzl Year Book, vol.3, (New York, 1960), p.208. 

— 21 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

biography of Herzl. (^) 

Unlike his books, Herzl's diaries were not intended for pubhcation during his hfetime. 
Soon after his death, the question of publishing his diaries arose. 

David Wolffsohn, Herzl's successor as President of the World Zionist Organisation, 
quoted Max Nordau, who, in emphatically opposing their publication, said, "You will ruin 
Herzl's name if you publish his diaries. Whoever reads them is bound to believe that he was 
a fool and a swindler." {^) This statement is not elaborated upon, but possibly relates to 
Herzl's views, as propounded in his diary, on the appropriate treatment for the indigenous 
population of the proposed Jewish State, since Nordau was strongly against prominent Zionist 
figures putting forward transfer proposals in public. 

We can see this from a letter which he wrote in 1919 to the Anglo-Jewish writer, Israel 
Zangwill, who was a strong supporter of transfer of the Arabs. Nordau described Zangwill's 
stand on the Arab question as "regrettable". He wrote, "It's no use qualifying your scheme as 
your own individual idea - we have not to count on the good faith of our eternal enemies, and 
henceforward they will quote you as their authority for the accusation that, not you Israel 
Zangwill, but the Jews, all the Jews, are an intolerant lot dreaming only violence and high- 
handed dealings and expulsion of non-Jews." O 

The original letter of Nordau's has not been traced, although from a number of postcards 
and letters exchanged between the two of them at that period, (^) we know that they were in 
regular contact. 

We do however have the reply sent by Zangwill to Nordau on 28 January. In this letter, 
he pointed out that Nordau "somewhat misconceived my attitude on the Arab question". He 
added that at the same time he had "received a similar castigation from my old friend. Judge 
Sulzberger, of America." Zangwill was however so firm in his opinion on the Arab question 
that he wrote, "but not even both these stars in their courses fighting against me have altered 
my conviction that I am absolutely in the right." He then asked Nordau for his "own solution 
of this vexing question, which, to my mind, is the destruction of Zionism." (^) 

When, a few years later, which was nineteen years after Herzl's death, his diaries 
were first published, Joseph Bloch, the great fighter of anti-Semitism, was "appalled". (^) 

Herzl's Letter to Al-Khalidi 

Herzl's public attitude (which is quite different from his private views!) towards the 
indigenous population is illustrated in a letter he wrote to Youssuf Zia Al-Khalidi, Mayor of 
Jerusalem, in 1899. 

At the beginning of March 1899, Al-Khalidi had written to Zadok Kahn, Chief Rabbi 
of France, saying that the Zionists' case was just but could not be implemented in Palestine due 
to the opposition of the Turks and the local population. Al-Khalidi suggested that the Jews 
would do better if they went elsewhere. (') Rabbi Kahn forwarded the letter to Herzl and 
suggested that he make an authoritative reply. 

On 19 March, Herzl replied to Al-Khalidi in a letter which was both meek and 
reassuring. "You see another difficulty. Excellency, in the existence of the non-Jewish 
population in Palestine. But who would think of sending them away?" wrote Herzl, "It is 
their well-being, their individual wealth which we increase by bringing in our own." He went 
on to point out that Jewish colonisation would cause the value of Arab land to rise five or ten- 
fold in the course of a few months. (*) 

/ Alex Bein, Theodore Herzl, A Biography, trans. Maurice Samuel, (Cleveland, 1962), pp. 134-35. 
2 / David Wolffsohn, Diary entry 7(?) November 1906, p.2, (CZA W 35/3). 

/Nordau to ZangwUl, 15 January 1919, quoted by Joseph Nedava, "British Plans for the Resettlement of Palestinian 
Arabs", Forum (on the Jewish People, Zionism, and Israel), (Jerusalem), no.42/43. Winter 1981, p. 106. 
* / Postcards and letters may be found in CZA A120/509. 
^ / ZangwUl to Nordau, 28 January 1919, (CZA A120/509). 
^ / Braham to Jacobs, 16 October 1972, (SU). 

^ / Youssuf Zia Al-Khalidi to Rabbi Zadok Kahn, 1 March 1899, (CZA H iii D 13). 

^ / Theodor Herzl to Youssuf Zia Al-Khalidi, 19 March 1899, (CZA H iii D 13); Walid Khalidi, ed.. From Haven to 
Conquest, (Beirut, 1971), p.92. 

— 22 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Another example of Herzl's public pronouncements on this subject arose in May 1903, 
during the course of a discussion on the question of the purchase of the Jezreel valley. Herzl is 
reported to have remarked, "One cannot displace these poor Arab farmers from the soil." {^) 

Herzl's Charter 

Amongst the Herzl papers at the Central Zionist Archives in Jerusalem, is Herzl's Draft 
Charter. (^) This document is typewritten with some handwritten amendments. It is undated 
and is in German. 

One of Herzl's objectives was to gain a Charter for Palestine. He felt that this should 
preceed colonisation of the country. Until the British conquest, towards the end of the First 
World War, Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire. Herzl considered that the Zionist 
movement's diplomatic achievements depended on Turkey, which at that time was in chronic 
financial difficulties and Herzl's strategy was therefore centred on a plan to gain the 
approval of the Sultan. 

On 15 May 1901, a long-planned audience with the Sultan finally took place, but Herzl 
did not mention his proposed Charter at this meeting. However, at a meeting held a few days 
later with the Sultan's representatives, Herzl "propounded the Charter ... for the first time" 
and he "contented" himself "with their listening to all these suggestions". One of the Sultan's 
representatives then went to inform the Sultan of Herzl's proposals and he returned to inform 
Herzl that the Sultan expects to receive Herzl's "definite proposals within a month" ('). 

From Herzl's diary, we can see that on 29 May 1901, which was two weeks after his 
meeting with the Sultan, Arminius Vambery, (a Hungarian Orientalist, who worked closely 
with Herzl), met with Herzl in Germany. After giving Vambery a report, Vambery responded 
that "we shall have the Charter this very year". He informed Herzl that he planned to go to 
Constantinople that September and that "meanwhile he [Vambery] would like me [Herzl] to 
make a draft of the Charter which he intends to present to the Sultan and get it signed by him 
without any Secretary or Minister finding out about it". (*) 

The next mention of this Charter in Herzl's diary is dated 21 August 1901 and is a copy 
of a letter Herzl sent to Vambery. He wrote: "I am herewith returning to you Draft I, which 
met with your approval, because I have a copy of it". We can thus see that some time prior to 
this date, Herzl had sent Vambery a copy of his draft Charter and asked Vambery for his 
comments. Vambery had expressed satisfaction and returned this draft to Herzl. However, 
since Herzl already had a copy, he sent it back to Vambery. The draft Charter was in German 
and it would seem that Vambery had suggested preparing a French translation, since Herzl 
continues his letter to Vambery: "Translating it into French is pointless, because it probably 
will not be practicable in this form". 

In order to implement his plan, Herzl wrote in his letter that "first of all he [the 
Sultan] must give the Charter, specifically, to the Jewish Colonial Trust for the formation of 
the Compagnie Ottomane-Juive pour I'Asie Mineure, la Palestine et la Syrie [Ottoman-Jewish 
Company for Asia Minor, Palestine and Syria]. To give the whole thing a financially sound 
character, the Jewish Colonial Trust could deposit a security of, say, one million francs as soon 
as the Charter is delivered to us, and this earnest would be forfeited to the Turkish treasury 
if the Company was not founded within a certain period of time". 

Herzl concluded by saying that "Draft I would therefore have to serve only as a 
preamble, and you will certainly know yourself the most appropriate manner in which it can 
be used". (') 

Walid Khalidi, (a founder of the Institute for Palestine Studies and its General 
Secretary), concluded that the draft Charter was "drawn up sometime between the summer of 

/ Adolf Friedemann, Das Leben Theodor Herzls, (Berlin, 1914), p.22. 
2 / CZA H vi A 2. 

/ Herzl Diaries, vol.3, pp. 1135-36. 
^ I Herzl Diaries, vol.3. p.ll44. 
^ / Herzl Diaries, vol.3, pp. 1173-74. 

— 23 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

1901 and early 1902". (i) However, from the above diary entry, it seems to have been written 
before August 1901. It is of course possible that the draft Charter in the Central Zionist 
Archives is a latter draft, although there does not seem to be any evidence to support the 
existence of such a later draft. 

The contents of Herzl's Charter deal with the privileges, rights and obligations 
concerning the colonisation of Palestine and Syria. (2) [Until after the end of the First World 
War, there were no actual borders between the regions of Palestine and Syria - it was all part 
of the Ottoman Empire. "Palestine and Syria" was the term used when planning Jewish 
settlement during this period.] 

Included in Herzl's Charter were paragraphs dealing with the loan which the 
Company would make to the Sultan; the right of the Company to bring Jewish immigrants into 
the region; the option to acquire certain categories of lands in the region; autonomy; Jewish 
military defence units and the appointment of a Governor and a Chief Justice for the area. 

Paragraph 3 of this Charter reads, "The right to exchange economic enclaves in the area 
- with the exception of the Holy Places or places of worship - by compensating the owners 
with equally large and equally qualitative plots in other provinces and lands throughout the 
Ottoman Empire. The emigration costs are to be paid to the owners and they are to receive an 
advance for building necessary housing and buying necessary utensils to be repaid in 
instalments over a number of years, the security being the plots they received in exchange." (^) 

This paragraph in Herzl's Charter conferred the right to acquire certain (Arab) lands in 
Palestine and Syria, giving in exchange comparative plots of land within the Ottoman 
Empire, while financially assisting the previous owners with emigration and resettlement. 
For example, under Herzl's proposals, the Jews would have the right to transfer an Arab from 
Jaffa to Constantinople, provided they paid his transfer expenses and gave him an equivalent 
parcel of land at his new destination. 

It is not absolutely clear whether Herzl was referring to a "right" to transfer Arabs 
compulsorily or merely assist their voluntary transfer. The wording in his Charter strongly 
indicates transfer of a compulsory nature. This opinion is also held by David Hirst in his book 
"The Gun and the Olive Branch" where he writes, "Article Three of the draft charter would 
have granted the Jews the right to deport the native population." (^) An almost identical 
wording is used by the Dutch Orientalist, Van Der Hoeven Leonhard. (') However, when 
assessing the weight to be attached to these opinions, it should be remembered that these two 
authors show an anti- Zionist bias. It is also just conceivable that this Charter refers to a 
voluntary transfer and the "right" is that granted by Turkey, (who in the past had put many 
obstacles in the way of Jewish settlement in Palestine), allowing the Jews to exchange land 
after its owners had agreed to move out of Palestine. However in January 1901, just a few 
months prior to Herzl writing this Charter, the Ottoman administration had removed many 
of the restrictions on Jews regarding the purchase of land and the building on it, in 
Palestine, ('') and this thus strengthens the argument that it was intended to be a compulsory 
transfer. Furthermore, restrictive expressions such as "equally large and equally qualitative 
plots" are used; were the exchange by agreement with the owners, they might have preferred 
monetary compensation, or a larger quantity of land of a lower quality. From all this we 
might conclude that the intentions of Herzl were for compulsory transfer. 

Throughout his Zionist career, Herzl had strong feelings that the Holy Places must be 
given extraterritorial status and it is therefore fully understandable that he immediately 

/ Walid Khalidi, "The Jewish-Ottoman Land Company; Herzl's Blueprint for the Colonization of Palestine", Journal 
of Palestine Studies, (Berkeley), vol.XXll no.2 (Winter 1993) p.30. 

/ Theodor Herzl, Uebereinkommen uber die Privilegien, Rechte, Schuldigkeiten u. Pflichten der Judische- 
Ottomanischen Land-Compagnie (J.O.L.C.) zur Besiedelung von Palastina und Syrien, (CZA H vi A 2); Adolf Bohm, 
Die Zionistische Bewegung, (Berlin, 1935), pp.705ff; Khalidi, Jewish-Ottoman Land Company, op.cit.., pp.44-47, 
(English translation). 
3 / Ibid., p.2; Ibid., p.706; Ibid., p.44-45. 
'^ I David Hirst, The Gun and the Olive Branch, (New York, 1977), p.l8. 

/ L.M.C. Van Der Hoeven Leonhard, "Shlomo and David, Palestine, 1907", From Haven to Conquest, op.cit., p. 119. 

/ Neville J. Mandel, The Arabs and Zionism before World War 1, (Berkeley, 1976), p. 15. 

— 24 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

excluded them from this "right". O 

This Charter was unreahsed, since the Jewish bankers whom Herzl approached for the 
loan for the Sultan told him to return when he had an agreement with the Sultan and the 
Sultan told Herzl that he would only negotiate after he had the loan! 

In conclusion, it is interesting to note that David Wolffsohn when composing a charter 
for Palestine in 1907, followed the points made by Herzl in his charter, except that he 
completely omitted the paragraph giving the right to transfer Arabs out of Palestine into 
some other part of the Ottoman Empire. (^) It is of course possible that Wolffsohn disagreed 
with this transfer plan of Herzl's. On the other hand, he may of been influenced by Nordau's 
appeal not to publish Herzl's diaries, an appeal which we saw earlier, was quoted by 
Wolffsohn in his diary. 


David Ben-Gurion, the first Prime Minister and Defence Minister of the State of Israel 
was born in Plonsk in 1886 and at the age of twenty emigrated to Palestine. His numerous 
Zionist activities included directing the New York branch of the Hehalutz organisation in 
1915 where he trained young Jews to settle in Palestine. Four years later he called upon Jewish 
workers in Palestine and the Diaspora to unite in forming a political force that would direct 
the Zionist movement towards the establishment of a new Jewish socialist society in 
Palestine. Amongst the various offices which he held, before the establishment of the Jewish 
State, were Secretary General of the Histadrut and Chairman of the Jewish Agency 

Ben-Gurion's Transfer Proposals 

On 9 July 1936, Ben-Gurion and Shertok met with the High Commissioner of Palestine, 
Sir Arthur Wauchope at Government House, Jerusalem. Shertok recorded a note of the 
conversation. At this meeting they discussed the embargo on immigration, Cantonisation and 
Transjordan, and the reopening of the Port of Jaffa. While discussing the subject of 
Transjordan, "Mr. Ben-Gurion asked whether the Government would make it possible for Arab 
cultivators displaced through Jewish land purchase in western Palestine to be settled in 
Transjordan", adding that if Transjordan was closed to Jewish settlement, it surely could not be 
closed to Arabs. (^) The High Commissioner thought that this was "a good idea", but his 
advisers contended that since Transjordan was such a poor country, it was impossible to 
increase its population without at the same time increasing its capital resources. The High 
Commissioner asked "whether the Jews would be prepared to spend money on the settlement 
of such Palestinian Arabs in Transjordan." Ben-Gurion replied that this could be considered. 

Shertok "remarked that the Jewish colonising agencies were in any case spending money 
in providing for the tenants or cultivators who had to be shifted as a result of Jewish land 
purchase either by the payment of compensation or through the provision of alternative land. 
They would gladly spend that money on the settlement of these people in Transjordan." (*) 
From Shertok's words "had to be shifted," it would appear that such transfers could be 
compulsory, and his assertion that the Jews would "gladly spend... money to settle the 
displaced Arabs in Transjordan" suggests preference for resettling the Arabs in this region, 

/ Herzl Jewish State, p.30; The Writings of Herzl, (Jerusalem, 1961), vol.7, p. 74; Herzl Diaries, vol.4, p. 1603. 
^ / Notebook of David Wolffsohn, undated entry (between 5 October 1907 and 10 November 1907), "Wolffsohn's 
Charter" pp.18-21 (French text), pp.22-26 (German text), (CZA WIO) ; Paul Alsberg, The Policy of the Zionist 
Executive in the Period between the Death of Herzl and the Outbreak of World War I, Doctoral Thesis, (Hebrew 
University, Jerusalem, [n.d.] (1958)), p.24 (summary of Charter in Hebrew) ;Ben Halpern, The Idea of the Jewish State, 
(Cambridge Mass, 1969), pp.263-64, (brief summary of Charter in English). 

/ Note on Conversation between Ben-Gurion, Shertok and High Commissioner, 9 July 1936, p.5, (CZA S25/19). 
* / Ibid. 

— 25 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

rather than in another part of Palestine. 

In a report on the meeting made to the Jewish Agency Executive on the following day by 
Ben-Gurion himself, he said that he had told the High Commissioner that "if at present Jews 
are not permitted to settle in Transjordan; at least give us permission to purchase land in 
Transjordan and settle there Arabs from Palestine from whom we are buying land." (i) 

Ben-Gurion also wrote of this proposal in a letter to Zalman Rubashov (later Shazar) on 
17 July. There Ben-Gurion added that the High Commissioner had previously been strongly 
opposed to Jews purchasing land in Transjordan for the resettlement of Arabs from Palestine, 
but that he no longer opposed it. (^) This indicated that it was not Ben-Gurion's first attempt 
at enlisting the High Commissioner's support for the transfer of Arabs from Palestine to 

We do know that such an attempt was made in July 1933 and that the High 
Commissioner had opposed it. The village of Rumman in Transjordan was up for sale or long- 
term lease, and Moshe Shertok "suggested that the [Palestine] Government may like to 
purchase the property for settlement thereon of 'landless Arabs'". (^) In answer, the High 
Commissioner wrote that "The Palestine Government has no intention of entertaining the 
suggestion that these lands might be purchased for the purpose of resettling Arabs who have 
been rendered landless in Palestine as a result of the change from Arab to Jewish landlords ... 
Any attempt on the part of the Palestine Government to transfer Palestinian Arabs to new 
holdings in Trans-Jordan would be looked upon as tantamount to expulsion of the existing 
inhabitants of this country." (^) However, as we shall see later, after the start of the Arab 
rebellion in Palestine in 1936, the very same High Commissioner himself ordered the 
"repatriation" of Arabs whose "presence in Palestine" was "considered undesirable"! 

On 10 November 1936, at a meeting of the Zionist General Council, held in preparation 
for the arrival of the Peel Commission, Ben-Gurion made a long statement which included his 
same transfer proposal. (') 

Nearly seven months later, in May 1937, Ben-Gurion had a meeting with some 
colleagues amongst whom was included Pinhas Rutenberg. Rutenberg was a Russo-Jewish 
electrical engineer and founder and director of the Palestine Electric Company, who had set 
up a hydro-electric power station in Transjordan to harness the waters of the upper Jordan and 
the Yarmuk rivers. On the political level, he had co-operated in the 1930s with a number of 
other Jewish personalities, including Magnes and Smilensky (two strong opponents of Arab 
transfer), in search of a programme for Arab-Jewish understanding. 

At this meeting on 5 May, it was concluded that "We see need... to pressure the British 
Government" on the possibility of Jewish settlement in Transjordan, "or at least the 
possibility of purchasing land for the purpose of settling Arabs from Western Palestine who 
will agree to transfer to Transjordan." (^) This was the first time that Ben-Gurion, in putting 
forward this transfer proposal, had included the element of agreement by the 
Arabs. However, this is not necessarily Ben-Gurion's own personal opinion but a joint statement 
as evidenced by the opening "We see" (our emphasis). 

At another meeting held a month later, between Ben-Gurion and Rutenberg a joint letter 
was prepared which mentioned this transfer proposal and included the element of Arab 
consent. (') However, in the interval between these two meetings, Ben-Gurion again mentioned 
this proposal, not this time in Rutenberg's presence and without this time including the need 
for Arab consent! (*) 

/ Minutes of Meeting Jewish Agency Executive, Jerusalem, (henceforth Minutes J. A. Exec), vol.25/3, no.65a, 10 July 
1936, p.3, (CZA). 

/ Ben-Gurion to Zalman Rubashov (Shazar), 17 July 1936, (BGA) ; David Ben-Gurion, Memoirs, (henceforth Ben- 
Gurion Memoirs), vol.3, (Tel-Aviv, 1973), p.343. 

3 / Andrews to Chief Secretary, 10 July 1933, (PRO CO 733/231/17249). 
* / Wauchope to Cunliffe-Lister, 22 July 1933, (PRO CO 733/231/17249). 

/ Ben-Gurion, Memoirs, op. cit., p.491. 
*> / Ibid., vol.4, (Tel-Aviv, 1974), p.l75. 
7 / Ibid., p.207. 

/ David Ben-Gurion, Handwritten Diary entry 15 May 1937, (BGA) ; Ben-Gurion, Memoirs, vol.4, op. cit., p. 177. 

— 26 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Ben-Gurion's transfer proposals were not limited to transferring Arabs to Transjordan. In 
December 1937, he entered in his diary a proposal to transfer Arabs - this time from Palestine 
to Syria. On 9 December, Ben-Gurion had a meeting with Yehoshua Henkin, a major purchaser 
of land in Palestine for the Jewish National Fund, and questioned him regading the purchase 
of land in Upper Galilee and in the North of Palestine. {^) 

Four days later, Joseph Nachmani, another land purchaser, handed Ben-Gurion a 
detailed list of lands which could be purchased in Upper Galilee, together with survey of the 
number of tenant farmers and Bedouin currently working on these lands. (^) Whereupon Ben- 
Gurion commented in his diary, "At present there are difficulties regarding the purchase of 
land; there is the question of the Arab tenant farmers and the Bedouin; there are political 
difficulties." In Northern Syria, in particular the el-Jezireh area, there were wide open 
spaces settled by Kurds and non-Arab tribes. Ben-Gurion's proposal was that, "By agreement 
with the Syrian government it would be possible to transfer large numbers of tenant farmers 
and Bedouin to Northern Syria. The land there is cheap and plentiful." If the Arab tenant- 
farmers were to be transferred from the Galilean Hills, the Jewish farmers would be able to 
establish orchards and grow tobacco there. (') 

In this proposal, Ben-Gurion does not specify whether the Arab tenant-farmers and 
Bedouin would have to give their consent to their proposed transfer to Northern Syria where 
the land was "cheap and plentiful." 

As we can see, the above-mentioned proposals suggested by Ben-Gurion were for transfer 
of Arabs just from Palestine west of the Jordan river. However, two years earlier, in the 
summer of 1934, Ben-Gurion put forward a proposal which would have involved transferring 
Arabs from Transjordan as well as from Palestine west of the Jordan. 

This proposal was made in a meeting with the Arab leader Shekib Arslan, who at the 
time was living in Geneva. At this meeting, Ben-Gurion suggested that "if the Arabs would 
leave Palestine and Transjordan to the Jews, they could count on Jewish help, not only in 
resettling the displaced Palestinians, but for Arab causes in other countries." Ben-Gurion's 
proposal received a "summary rejection" by Arslan! (^) 

Enthusiastic Reaction to Transfer Proposal 

On 3 July 1937, Ben-Gurion, who was at the time in London, received a summary of the 
Peel Report from Moshe Shertok, in Cairo. The same day, Ben-Gurion wrote a letter back to 
Shertok commenting on the Report's recommendations. He told Shertok that one paragraph 
remained unclear - the transfer of the Arab population. "Is the proposal a voluntary one or a 
compulsory one? It is difficult for me to believe in a compulsory transfer, and it is difficult for 
me to believe in a transfer by agreement." (') Towards the evening of 6 July, Ben-Gurion 
received a full copy of the Report and by the afternoon of 10 July he had completed his first 
reading. On 11 July, he noted in his diary that the proposal to transfer the Arabs out of the 
proposed Jewish State would give a bargaining counter. "If the Arabs agree to give us the 
Dead Sea and the Negev - it may be worth our while to forgo their compulsory transfer from 
the plains, as proposed by the Commission." 

Ben-Gurion considered that the implementation of this transfer proposal presented 
"great difficulties and it is doubtful whether the British will implement it, even assuming 
that Abdullah, (the ruler of Transjordan) agrees to it." Ben-Gurion considered that Abdullah 
would undoubtedly be interested in such a transfer of Arabs both for financial and other 
reasons. (^) 

Abdullah, one of the sons of Sherif Hussein of Mecca, had, in 1921, moved into 

/ Ben-Gurion, Memoirs, vol.4, op. cit., p.465. 

/ David Ben-Gurion, Handwritten Diary entry 13 December 1937, (BGA) ; Ben-Gurion Memoirs, vol.4, op. cit., 
^ / Ibid. ; Ibid., p.472. 

/ Sir Geoffrey Furlonge, Palestine is My Country, (New York, 1969), p. 105. 

/ Ben-Gurion Memoirs, vol.4, op. cit., p. 278. 

/ David Ben-Gurion, Handwritten Diary entry 11 July 1937, (BGA) ; Ben-Gurion Memoirs, vol.4, op. cit., pp.295-97. 

— 27 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Transjordan with a band of guerilla Arabs, declaring his intention to recover Syria, from 
which his brother Feisal had been driven out by the French. Winston Churchill, then British 
Colonial Secretary, went to the Middle East to meet with Abdullah and promised him 
recognition as Emir of Transjordan, provided that he did not violate the frontier with Syria. 
At his meeting with Churchill, Abdullah had asked whether the British Government's 
policy was to "establish a Jewish Kingdom west of the Jordan and to turn out the non-Jewish 
population?" Abdullah said, "The Allies appeared to think that men could be cut down and 
transplanted in the same way as trees." The High Commissioner, Herbert Samuel, who had 
accompanied Churchill replied that "there was no intention either to cut down or to 
transplant but only to plant new ones." Churchill said that there was a "great deal of 
groundless apprehension among the Arabs in Palestine" and that their rights would be 
strictly preserved." (i) 

In July 1937, Ben-Gurion, writing in his diary on the Peel transfer proposal, continued, 
"We should not assume that it is definitely impossible. If it were put into effect, it would be of 
tremendous advantage to us." Transfer would enable vast numbers of Jews to settle on land 
previously occupied by Arabs. "For every transferred Arab, one could settle four Jews on the 
land," and even more Jews in non-agrarian occupations. In fact, Ben-Gurion considered it very 
doubtful whether within the entire Negev, one could settle even half the number of Jews that 
could be contained within the lesser area proposed by the Peel Commission for the Jewish 
State, were the Arabs to be transferred from this area. 

Ben-Gurion concluded that the choice between the addition of the Negev to the 
proposed Jewish State or the compulsory transfer of the Arabs from the Plains was not easy. 
"But if the Government rejects the Commission's proposal for compulsory transfer - which is 
almost certain - then we will have an additional and weighty argument in favour of our claim 
on the Negev." (^) 

At that time, there were already a number of Jewish settlements on the eastern side of 
the River Jordan. These were situated between the Sea of Galilee and the junction between the 
Jordan and Yarmuk Rivers. Geographically, these settlements were in Transjordan, but in fact 
this small area of land was outside the boundaries of Transjordan as they had been fixed in 
1922. According to the Peel Commission's recommendations the area of these settlements was 
to become part of the Arab State and its Jewish inhabitants transferred to the Jewish State. 
The Zionists made an immediate appeal for this small area to be incorporated within the 
boundaries of the Jewish State. C) However, as Ben-Gurion noted in his diary, "In the event of 
the compulsory transfer being rejected by the Government, we will remain in Transjordan - 
even if the border suggested by the Commission, north of the Yarmuk-Jordan junction is not 
rectified." (^) 

By 12 July, Ben-Gurion had already come out strongly in favour of immediate 
implementation of the compulsory transfer of Arabs from the Jewish State. "In my notes on the 
Report immediately after my first reading (of 10.7.37), I ignored a central point whose 
importance is far greater than all the other advantages and outweighs all the deficiencies 
and drawbacks in the Report and, if it does not remain a dead letter, is likely to give us 
something which we have never had, ... namely the compulsory transfer of Arabs from the 

According to Ben-Gurion, he initially ignored this transfer proposal because of a "pre- 
conceived notion" that compulsory transfer could never take place. However, on further study 
of the Peel's Commission's conclusions, the crucial importance of the transfer proposal became 
clear to Ben-Gurion. He concluded that the primary obstacle to the realisation of this 
proposal was a lack of appreciation among the Jewish community, of the importance of a 
compulsory transfer. 

"With the removal of the Arabs from the Plains, we are getting for the first time in our 

' / Martin Gilbert, Winston S. ChurchUl, vol.iv, 1917-1922, (London, 1975), p.561. 
/ Ben-Gurion, Handwritten Diary entry 11 July 1937, op. cit.; Ben-Gurion Memoirs, vol.4, op. cit., p.297. 
/ en-Gurion Memoirs, vol.4, op. cit., pp.283, 295. 
/ Ben-Gurion, Handwritten Diary entry 11 July 1937, op. cit.; Ben-Gurion Memoirs, vol.4, op. cit., p.297. 

— 28 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

history a truly Jewish State," continued Ben-Gurion. He explained the advantages which 
would accrue from such a transfer. There could be large scale Jewish settlement entirely 
within the autonomous Jewish State. Hitherto insoluble difficulties would disappear 
revealing hitherto unimagined possibilities. 

Ben-Gurion insisted that the transfer proposal could not succeed without a firm 
recognition that transfer was both possible and desirable. He envisaged great difficulties in 
the forceful removal of something in the region of one hundred thousand Arabs from the 
villages in which they had been living for hundreds of years and he queried whether the 
English would have the courage to carry it through. "Of course they will not do it," wrote 
Ben-Gurion, "if we do not will it and if we do not urge them with all our might and main." He 
feared that even if the pressure were maintained, the English might falter but "any wavering 
on our part as to the necessity of this transfer, any doubt on our part as to the possibility of its 
achievement, any hesitation on our part as to the justice of it, are likely to lose us a historic 
opportunity which will not reoccur." 

Ben-Gurion continued, "We must insist on the implementation of this proposal with all 
our strength, heart and soul, since of all the proposals of the Commission, this is the (only) 
one which can compensate us for the amputation of the remaining parts of Palestine." 

Ben-Gurion considered that this transfer proposal would also benefit the Arab cause, 
since Transjordan was in need of increased population, development and money. 

On the previous day, Ben-Gurion had been considering forgoing the transfer proposal in 
exchange for the inclusion of the Negev within the borders of the proposed Jewish State. 
After further consideration, he came to exactly the opposite conclusion. "The transfer 
paragraph is in my eyes more important than all our demands for additional land." 

Ben-Gurion concluded his diary entry on this subject with a reiteration of the need for an 
immediate implementation of the transfer proposal. "If we are not able to remove the Arabs 
from our midst now and transfer them to the Arab area as the British Royal commission has 
suggested to England, then we will not be able to do it easily (if at all) after the 
establishment of the State." He explained that the Arabs, if left in the future Jewish State, 
would acquire rights as a minority group and gain the sympathy extended to minorities by a 
world hostile to the Jews. Therefore "we must do this (transfer) now - and the first and 
perhaps decisive step is preparing ourselves to implement it." (^) 

In his diary entry for 17 July, Ben-Gurion listed the advantages and disadvantages of 
the Peel Commission's partition proposals. Amongst the advantages, he included, "All the 
Plains in the Jewish State will be cleared of their Arab residents." (^) 

The Report of the Peel Commission recommended that whereas the transfer of Arabs 
from the Plains was in the last resort to be compulsory, the transfer of Arabs from the Galilee 
should be on a voluntary basis. Ben-Gurion listed this last restriction as one of the 
disadvantages of the Peel Report, "The Arabs in the Galilean-hills who wish to remain in 
the Jewish state cannot be removed by force." (^) We can thus see that Ben-Gurion would have 
liked the right to remove these Galilean Arabs compulsorily in the same way as the Arabs of 
the Plains. He also considered that one of the disadvantages of the Report was "The 
compulsory transfer of all Jews from the 'Arab State'." (^) 

At the end of 1937, the British Government retracted from its support of the Peel 
Commission's recommendation on compulsory transfer. In his writings and speeches during 
1938, Ben-Gurion showed his disappointment over this retraction. 

In September 1938, he wrote in his diary, "One should remember that the cancelling of 
the compulsory transfer (proposal) decreased our possibilities and serves as a great legacy for 
the Arabs." C) 

A few weeks later, in a letter written to his children from London, Ben-Gurion observed 

^ / David Ben-Gurion, Handwritten Diary entry 12 July 1937, (BGA) ; Ibid., pp.297-99. 

2 / David Ben-Gurion, Handwritten Diary entry 17 July 1937, (CZA S25/179/10) ; Ibid., p.306. 

3 / Ibid. ; Ibid., p.305. 
^ I Ibid. ; Ibid. 

^ / David Ben-Gurion, Handwritten Diary entry 19 September 1938, (BGA) ; Ibid., vol.5, (Tel-Aviv, 1987), p.256. 

— 29 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

that within a few weeks, the Woodhead Commission would pubhsh its report. Whilst 
describing the possible recommendations that the Commission might make, Ben-Gurion 
observed, "In my opinion, the suggestion of the Peel Commission was on the whole good, 
provided that they were also to implement the transfer (of Arabs) from all the Plains as the 
'Royal Commission' suggested." (i) 

Ben-Gurion's Letters to his Son Amos 

In a long letter sent from Paris in 27 July 1937 to his sixteen year old son Amos, David 
Ben-Gurion wrote that the partition plan of the Peel Commission differed from the plan 
which he had suggested to the Mapai Central Committee, both for the better and for the 
worse. He then listed these differences. 

Ben-Gurion approved of the Peel Commission's recommendation that all the Arabs 
living on the Coastal Plain, the Jezreel Valley and the Jordan Valley be removed and 
transferred to Transjordan or some other place within the proposed Arab State. "By this 
means the Jews will receive these valleys completely free of Arabs and hence the possibility 
of Jewish settlement will grow considerably. This proposal has an enormous advantage and is 
equivalent in my opinion to the Negev (if it is put into practice)." 

Ben-Gurion wrote that when he weighed up the advantages and disadvantages of the 
Peel Report as against his own plan, he found in general that the former was better. He 
considered that in two important things "whose value cannot be estimated" the proposals of 
the Peel Commission excelled. The first was the inclusion of the Galilee in the Jewish State 
and the second was the proposal to transfer the Arabs from the valleys. "We were not able nor 
permitted to express such an idea, since we never wanted to drive out the Arabs. But since the 
British are diverting part of Palestine which had been promised to us, to the Arab State, it is 
only fair that the Arabs in our State be transferred to the Arab area." (^) 

A few months later, in a further letter which he wrote to his son from London, Ben- 
Gurion displayed more extreme views. Writing about the Negev, Ben-Gurion suggested that 
the Arabs might say that "it is better that the Negev should remain desolate than that the 
Jews should live in it." Ben-Gurion felt that a situation where large tracts of land capable of 
absorbing large numbers of Jews were remaining empty, while Jews were being barred from 
returning to their land under the Arab pretext of insufficient room for both peoples, was 
unacceptable. Ben-Gurion's answer was simple, "We must expel Arabs and take their place." 
He explained that the Jews' aspirations were founded on the assumption that there was 
sufficient room in Palestine for both Jews and Arabs but "if we have to use force - not to 
dispossess the Arabs of the Negev and Transjordan, but to guarantee our right to settle in those 
places - then we will have force at our disposal." (') 

The above paragraph is quoted (in English translation) exactly as it appears in Ben- 
Gurion's handwritten letter, and also in the typewritten copy, both of which are to be found in 
Ben— Gurion's Archives in Sede Boker. It is from this text that Shabtai Teveth has quoted in 
the English version of his book "Ben-Gurion and the Palestinian Arabs." (*) In the Hebrew 
version of his book, however, four Hebrew words have been added making it read, "We do not 
want and do not need to expel Arabs and take their place." (^); these same additional four 
words (together with the previous two and a half lines) are in fact crossed out in Ben-Gurion's 
handwritten letter! In the published edition of this letter,(^) the Editor (and, according to 
Shabtai Teveth, with the consent of Ben-Gurion(')) completely omitted this sentence! 

From the mid-1990s, a number of historians began to study in depth the "crossings out" in 
this letter of Ben-Gurion's. In his book "Fabricating Israeli History", Efraim Karsh, Professor 

1 / Ben-Gurion to his ChUdren, 7 October 1938, (BGA) ; Ben-Gurion, Letters to Paula, (Tel- Aviv, 1968), p. 247. 

/ Ben-Gurlon Memoirs, vol.4, op. cit., pp.330-31. 

/ David Ben-Gurion to Amos Ben-Gurion, 5 October 1937, handwritten letter, (BGA) ; typewritten copy of same 
letter, p.3, (BGA). 

/ Shabtai Teveth, Ben-Gurion and the Palestinian Arabs, English ed., (New York, 1985), p. 189. 

/ Shabtai Teveth, Ben-Gurion and the Palestinian Arabs, Hebrew ed., (Jerusalem, 1985), p. 314. 

/ Ben-Gurion, Letters to Paula, op. cit., p.213. 

/ Shabtai Teveth, "Nikayon Kapayim v'Shichtuv Mismachim", Alpayim, (Tel-Aviv), vol.14 (1997), p. 178. 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

of Mediterranean Studies at the University of London, argued that Ben-Gurion only intended 
to cross out the previous sentence but "in so doing, most probably due to an abrupt brush of the 
pen, he erased the critical [four Hebrew] words." (^) 

In an article in the journal "Alpayim", Benny Morris wrote that "between 1937 and the 
1970s, someone - presumably not Ben-Gurion himself - 'vandalised' the original letter" by 
crossing out several lines of it. He added that the Archives of the Israel Defence Forces had, 
with the aid of modern technology, managed to decipher these crossed out words. (^) In a later 
article, Morris slightly modified this statement and wrote that these three lines had been 
crossed out "by Ben-Gurion or someone else, subsequently." (') 

These views of Morris's were ridiculed by Shabtai Teveth. Teveth indicated that one 
did not require the Archives of the Israel Defence Forces to decipher what was written under 
the crossing out - it could be read, albeit with a little difficulty, by just looking at the letter. 
In addition, a letter which he had received from these Archives stated that they had not 
even attempted to use modern technology to decipher it, since it was unnecessary in this case!. 
Teveth also regarded as absurd the idea that someone other than Ben-Gurion had done this 
crossing out. Also, the appropriate page of Ben-Gurion's letter had been sent to the Criminal 
Investigation Department of the Israel Police in order to determine at what date these lines 
had been crossed out, but they were unable to do so. (^) 

In conclusion, one must therefore say that this particular quote on transfer by Ben-Gurion 
is problematic! 

In his book, Karsh also wrote that Ben-Gurion had constantly and completely opposed 
the transfer of Arabs. (') In answer, Morris gives a number of examples of how Ben-Gurion 
supported the transfer of Arabs from Palestine, and he wrote: "But at no point during the 1930s 
and 1940s did Ben-Gurion ever go on record against the idea or policy of transfer. On the 
contrary, Ben-Gurion left a paper trail a mile long as to his actual thinking, and no amount of 
ignoring, twisting and turning, manipulation, contortion, and distortion can blow it away." (^) 

Furthermore Karsh claimed that the Zionist leaders also opposed transfer(') and on 
this Morris answered: "Karsh can shout until he is blue in the face that the Zionist leaders in 
the 1930s and 1940s rejected all thought of transfer: Mountains of evidence speak to the 
contrary." (*) 

Ben-Gurion's Plan to Transfer Arabs to Iraq 

Towards the end of 1938, Ben-Gurion began to work out details of a plan to transfer Arabs 
from Palestine to Iraq. 

In a diary entry dated 10 December 1938 - during the period when preparations were in 
hand for the St. James's Palace [London] Conference - Ben-Gurion wrote that the Jews would 
come to this conference with maximalistic claims. They would suggest that the Feisal- 
Weizmann agreement of 1919 should serve as a basis for negotiation and would stand by their 
demand that at least all of Western Palestine be handed over to the Jews. 

Ben-Gurion then continued, "We will offer to Iraq ten million pounds to transfer one 
hundred thousand Arab families from Palestine to Iraq. Were it not for Ibn-Saud and Egypt, 
there would perhaps be a chance for this proposal. However, whether or not there is a 
chance, we should approach them with this extensive plan." (') 

On the following day, Ben-Gurion put forward this plan at a meeting of the Jewish 

/ Efraim Karsh, Fabricating Israeli History, The 'New Historians' , (London, 1997), p.50. 

/ Benny Morris, "Mabat Chadash al Mismachim Tzioniim Mercaziim", Alpayim, (Tel-Aviv), vol.12 (1996), pp. 76-77, 

3 / Benny Morris, "Refabricating 1948", Journal of Palestiire Studies, (Berkeley), vol.XXVll no.2 (Winter 1998), p.84. 
* / Teveth, Alpayim, op.cit., pp.179-81. 

/ Karsh, Fabricating Israeli History, op.cit., pp.43 et seq. 

/ Morris, Journal of Palestine Studies, op.cit., pp.85-86. 

/Karsh, Fabricating Israeli History, op.cit., pp. 37 et seq. 

/ Morris, Journal of Palestine Studies, op.cit., p.87. 

/ David Ben-Gurion, Handwritten Diary entry 10 December 1938, (BGA) ; David Ben-Gurion, Memoirs, vol.5, op. 
cit., p. 404. 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Agency Executive. He said that he did not know whether Iraq would be prepared to accept it 
"but if it were just Iraq, perhaps they would listen to us. Iraq needs a much larger Arab 
colonisation and obviously they would not loathe the millions [of pounds]." The problem, as 
Ben-Gurion saw it, was the presence of Ibn-Saud and Egypt at the forthcoming London 
Conference. A miracle would be required to come to an agreement with the Arabs. (}) 

Nearly two weeks later, in a letter to Eliezer Kaplan, Ben-Gurion wrote that on the 
previous day, a meeting of the Advisory Council of the Jewish Agency had taken place and 
before his (Ben-Gurion's) arrival, the non-Zionists had agreed that the Jews demand 
Palestine for themselves and also "they agreed to the proposal that Iraq be given ten million 
(pounds sterling) on condition they they receive one hundred thousand Arab families from 
Palestine." (^) 

At the beginning of 1939, Ben-Gurion had a meeting with Maurice Hexter, a non-Zionist 
memeber of the Executive of the Jewish Agency, and he wrote a report of this meeting in his 
diary. He told Hexter that at that time they had only general ideas and the non-Zionists 
had agreed to them. These included the demand for Western Palestine and "the suggestion to 
grant large financial support to Iraq for the purpose of transferring Arabs from Palestine." In 
reply, Hexter had stated that he did not believe in the possibility of transfer. Ben-Gurion 
answered that neither did he see at that time this suggestion as the most practical, not 
because it was not possible but because the political situation and the conditions for 
negotiation were not suitable. He considered that King Ibn-Saud of Saudi Arabia would be 
strongly opposed to such a proposal, even if Iraq would be inclined to agree, since Ibn-Saud 
would not be interested in the strengthening of Iraq militarily. He did not even suppose that 
Iraq under the prevailing conditions, would agree to such a suggestion. However, Ben-Gurion 
concluded, "But there is a moral and strategic value to this suggestion." (^) 

On 11 January 1939, Ben-Gurion who was at the time in New York, had a meeting with 
the Hadassah executive. In his diary he wrote that "they accepted with great satisfaction 
my comments on our 'programme': Western Palestine; the proposal of transfer to Iraq; no 
yielding on the question of Aliyah." (*) 

In an undated (early 1939) document headed "Future Policy", Ben-Gurion again put 
forward a plan for the transfer of Arabs from Palestine. "A proposal should be made to Iraq 
and to Saudi Arabia for ten million pounds to transfer 100,000 Arab families from Palestine." 
(') The document continues with the reaction of Dr. Selig Brodetsky, Head of the Political 
Department of the Jewish Agency in London, who agreed that the Jews "should, as suggested 
by Mr. Ben-Gurion approach the Arab States, with the proposal of taking Arabs out of 
Palestine, but the scheme should perhaps not be linked to the conception of compulsory 
transfer." ('') It would seem from this answer of Brodetsky, that Ben-Gurion had intended his 
transfer of Arabs to be of a compulsory nature. 

At that period, there were a number of people were putting forward proposals for the 
transfer of Arabs to Iraq. At a meeting of the Jewish Agency Executive in London, chaired by 
Ben-Gurion, arrangements for the St. James's Palace Conference were being discussed. Whilst 
discussing the contents of the opening statement to be presented by the Zionists, Dr. Nahum 
Goldmann referred to such a possible transfer. "If there were to be a transfer of Arabs to Irak, 
then they might help to float a loan to Irak. But he did not know if the Arabs needed their 
help so much." (') 

The Early 1940s 

^ / Minutes J.A. Exec, 11 December 1938, p.6, (CZA). 

/ Ben-Gurion to Kaplan, 21 December 1938, (BGA) ; Ben-Gurion Memoirs, vol.5, op. cit., p.422. 

/ David Ben-Gurion, Handwritten Diary entry 2 January 1939, (BGA) ; David Ben-Gurion, Memoirs, vol.6, (Tel-Aviv, 
1987), p.65. 

/ David Ben-Gurion, Handwritten Diary entry 11 January 1939,(BGA) ; Ben-Gurion Memoirs, vol.6, op. cit., p. 88. 
^ / Document headed Future Policy, [n.d.] (early 1939), p.l, (CZA S25/7643). ( 
^ / Ibid., p.2. 

/ (Draft) Minutes of the Fourteenth Meeting of the (Jewish Agency) Executive (London), 1 February 1939, page h, 
(CZA S25/7643). 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

As we shall see elsewhere in this work, when during the 1940s, Ben-Gurion would 
propose transfer of Arabs, his words would be tailored to the receiving audience! Another 
example of this occurred in 1941, when he put forward in a memorandum his "Outlines of 
Zionist Policy". It should be noted that this document was in the English language and thus 
intended for the Diaspora. 

He included in the memorandum a discussion on the possible transfer of Arabs. Ben- 
Gurion began by pointing out that although some people in England and America "advocate 
the transfer of the Palestinian Arabs to Iraq and Syria as the best solution of the so-called 
'Arab Question', we must consider first whether such a transfer is practicable, and secondly 
whether it is indispensable". He felt that "complete transfer without compulsion - and 
ruthless compulsion at that - is hardly imaginable." Although there were "sections of the 
non-Jewish population of Palestine which would not mind being transferred, under favourable 
conditions", the majority would not do so voluntarily. 

Ben-Gurion commented that although at that period "the idea of transfer of population 
is steadily gaining in popularity ... it would, however, be unsafe and unwise on our part to 
advocate, or even expect, a compulsory transfer of Arabs from Palestine." Since the Arabs 
(who were "more inclined to the Nazis" than to the Allies) were "formally ... 'friends' of the 
allies, especially of Great Britain ... it can, therefore, hardly be expected that a victorious 
England will undertake the compulsory transfer of Arabs from Palestine merely for the benefit 
of the Jewish people. It would thus be a mistake, politically and even morally, for us to 
advocate a compulsory transfer of the Arabs." 

He then went on to discuss a voluntary transfer and felt that "it would be rash to assert 
that in no circumstances and under no conditions can such a transfer take place". Ben-Gurion 
put forward various ideas how, and to what extent, such a voluntary transfer could take 
place, and that the Zionists should "work out plans" accordingly. (^) 

It would seem from this document, that Ben-Gurion would have loved to have proposed 
a compulsory transfer. However it would have been politically imprudent and also bad for 
public-relations to propose compulsory transfer at a time when one is not in a position to 
implement it. 

A copy of this "Private and Confidential" memorandum was "extracted" from Ben- 
Gurion's "luggage when he left England for America" by, presumably, agents of the British 
Foreign Office! This memorandum was read by civil servants of the Foreign Office and four of 
them appended their comments. (^) However, none of them made any mention of his remarks 
on Arab transfer. 

About three years later, at a meeting of the Jewish Agency Executive in Jerusalem, Ben- 
Gurion specifically did not reject transfer of Arabs on ethical or political, grounds but only on 
tactical grounds. In his speech to this forum he said: "I am against that any suggestion of 
transfer should come from our side. I do not reject transfer on ethical grounds and I do not reject 
it on political grounds; if there was a chance for its realisation. With regards to the Druze it 
is possible. With their consent, it is possible to transfer all the Druze to the Jebel Druze. The 
others - 1 don't know. But it must not be a Jewish proposal. If such a suggestion would come from 
Iraq and Syria, we could join in. If such a suggestion would come from the British, we would 
say to them: go (yourselves) to the Arabs; don't send us. If we were to suggest it, the Arabs 
would reject it and the non-Jews will say that there is no room for the Jews in Palestine." ('). 
As we shall see later in this work, during the 1940s, when the Jews were fighting to get 
immigration quotas to Palestine lifted, they were very concerned that any proposal for Arab 
transfer from Palestine, could be interpreted that there was a lack of room in Palestine, and 
thus give an excuse for continuing to limit Jewish immigration into Palestine. 

Ben-Gurion's Path to Pragmatism 

^ / Ben-Gurion, Memorandum "Outlines of Zionist Policy", 15 October 1941, pp.15-17, (CZA Z4/14.632). 

/ Departmental Comments of British Foreign Office on Ben-Gurion's memorandum "Outlines of Zionist Policy", 
December 1941, (PRO FO 371/127129 E8556). 
3 / Minutes J.A. Exec, 20 June 1944, p.35, (CZA). 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Ben-Gurion's transfer proposals during the 1930s and 1940s, especially in his letters to 
his son and in his diary entries, indicate a complete reversal of the opinions he expressed on 
this question during the First World War, when he was in the United States. 

In March 1915, Ben-Gurion and Yitzchak Ben-Zvi (later to be second President of the 
State of Israel) were deported by the Turks from Palestine. They went to the United States, 
where they remained for the next three years. The early part of this period was spent touring 
thirty-five cities recruiting for the Hehalutz organisation. 

In a communication postmarked Omaha, Nebraska, 14 February 1916, Ben-Gurion sent 
Ben-Zvi, then in New York, some brief notes on Jewish settlement in Palestine. He included a 
number of observations on the Arabs of Palestine. They "object to Jewish settlement... But this 
cannot stop us," he wrote. We did not come to expel the Arabs, but to build up the land for 
ourselves." Ben-Gurion considered that the Arabs were incapable of building up the country 
and "they do not have the power to expel us - this the Arabs must understand. Then we will be 
able to work together." (i) 

Two years later, early in 1918, a few months after the publication of the Balfour 
Declaration, Ben-Gurion published an article entitled "The Rights of Jews and Others in 
Palestine", in which he wrote that the historic area of Palestine was not unpopulated. On the 
two sides of the Jordan there were just over a million people, three quarters of whom lived on 
the west side. "Under no condition may we harm the rights of these inhabitants. Only 
'Dreamers of the Ghetto' like Zangwill can imagine that Palestine will be given to the Jews 
with the additional right to remove the non-Jews from the country." Here, Ben-Gurion's 
predictions were wrong. Only two decades later, this was precisely what the six respected 
Englishman comprising the Peel Commission were to recommend unanimously (with respect to 
a part of Palestine)! 

Ben-Gurion not only did not believe that any country would agree to such a transfer, but 
felt that even if the power to achieve such a transfer were to be given to the Jewish 
establishment, "the Jews have neither the right nor ability to utilise it. It is not proper nor 
possible to deport the country's present inhabitants." Ben-Gurion felt that any attempt to 
implement such a transfer would be "damaging and reactionary." (^) 

In his political biography on Ben-Gurion, Michael Bar-Zohar commentsonBen-Gurion's 
change of attitude on transfer. Bar-Zohar writes, "And therefore in place of Ben-Gurion's 
humanist thesis ten years earlier which absolutely disqualified the expulsion (of Arabs), 
there now appears a more harsh theory; the expulsion is permissible on condition that the 
evacuated Arabs are settled in new places and receive the means of rehabilitation." In such an 
event, Ben-Gurion was prepared to abandon principles which he himself had sanctified and 
adopt a more realistic but less idealistic approach. (^) 

So long as the British ruled Palestine, Ben-Gurion could only talk about this subject - he 
could not act. In May 1948, the British left the country and Ben-Gurion was made Prime 

During the battle for the capture of the cities Lod and Ramleh, Ben-Gurion met with his 
army chiefs. The Commander of the Palmach, Yigal Allon asked him, "What shall we do 
with the Arabs?" Ben-Gurion answered (or according to another version, gestured with his 
hands), "expel them". This was immediately communicated to the Army Headquarters and 
the expulsion implemented. (^) 

In the case of Nazareth, however, Ben-Gurion only arrived after its capture. On seeing 
so many Arabs, he asked, "Why are there so many Arabs? Why didn't you expel them?" (^) 

Attempts were also made to persuade Arabs to remain in Palestine, and this was not to 
Ben-Gurion's liking! On 1 May, two weeks before the establishment of the State of Israel, 

' / Notes sent by Ben-Gurion to Ben-Zvi, from Omaha Nebraska, 14 February 1916, (CZA A 116/40/1). 

/ David Ben-Gurion, Anakhnu veshekhnenu, (Tel-Aviv, 1931), pp. 31-32. 
^ / Michael Bar-Zohar, Ben-Gurion - A political Biography, (Tel-Aviv, 1975), vol.1, p.410. 

/ Benny Morris, "Operation Dani and the Palestinian Exodus from Lydda and Ramie in 1948", The Middle East 
Journal, (Washington D.C.), vol.40, no.l. Winter 1986, p. 91 ; Bar-Zohar, op. cit., vol.2, p. 775. 
^ / Bar-Zohar, op. cit., p. 776. 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Ben-Gurion paid a visit to Haifa, which was then in its final stage of capture by the Jews. He 
asked for a meeting with Abba Hushi who was the central figure of Mapai in Haifa. On being 
told that Hushi was busy trying to persuade Arabs in the city to remain, Ben-Gurion asked, 
"Doesn't he have anything more important to do?" (^) 


Chaim Weizmann, first President of the State of Israel, was born in Motol near Pinsk in 
1874. He was a delegate from the second Zionist Congress onwards and was opposed to the 
Uganda plan. During the First World War, Weizmann worked hard to achieve support for 
Zionist aims and his efforts culminated in the Balfour Declaration. From 1920 until 1946 
(with a break of four years), he was President of the World Zionist Organisation, but there 
was much opposition from within to his approach. 

In the period immediately following the Balfour Declaration, Weizmann spoke out 
publicly against transferring the Arabs from Palestine. In an address given to the Zionist 
Conference in London in September 1919, Weizmann stated, "We cannot go into the country like 
Junkers, we cannot afford to drive out other people. We who have been driven out ourselves 
cannot drive out others. We shall be the last people to drive off the Fellah from his land; we 
shall establish normal relations between us and them. The Arabs will live among us; they 
won't suffer; they will live among us as Jews do here in England. This is our attitude towards 
the Arabs. Any other attitude is criminal, childish, impolitic, stupid." (^) 

However, a decade or so later, Weizmann's attitude on this subject changed and during 
the 30s and 40s, he often put forward in private his own plans, or gave support to plans 
involving the transfer of Arabs from Palestine. 

Weizmann's First Transfer Proposal 

Following the massacres by the Arabs of 133 Jews in Palestine in the summer of 1929, the 
British Government set up a Commission under the chairmanship of Lord Shaw to investigate 
the situation in Palestine. Whilst this Commission was preparing its report, Weizmann had a 
meeting in the House of Commons on 4 March 1930, with Dr. Drummond Shiels, the British 
Assistant Colonial Secretary. 

According to Weizmann, at this meeting Shiels said that "some radical solution must be 
found, and he didn't see why one should not really make Palestine a National Home for the 
Jews and tell it frankly to the Arabs, pointing out to them that in Transjordan and 
Mesopotamia [Iraq] they had vast territories where they could develop their life and 
civilisation without let or hinderance, but that the Jews were entitled to work in Palestine 
unmolested, and that in the end it would be good for all parties concerned." 

Weizmann was in agreement with Shiel's transfer proposal, since he answered that "a 
solution like that was a courageous and statesmanlike attempt to grapple with a problem 
which had been tackled hitherto halfheartedly.... Some [Arabs from Palestine] might flow 
off into the neighbouring countries, and this quasi exchange of population could be encouraged 
and fostered... It only required careful preparation and goodwill." (^) 

Two days later, Weizmann met with the Colonial Secretary, Lord Passfield. The latter 
said that he had not yet seen the Shaw Report, but he had heard that "the only grave 
question it had revealed was the problem of tenants on the land which had been acquired by 
Zionists". This could in time "produce a landless proleteriat" which in turn could be "a cause 
of unrest in the country". Passfield hinted that a solution of this problem was the transfer of 

/ "Hamahapach", Al Hamishmar, (Tel- Aviv), 5 April 1985, Pesach supplement, p. 29 ; Yoram Nimrod, Patterns of 
Israeli-Arab Relations: The Formative Years, 1947 - 1950, Doctoral Thesis, (Hebrew University, lerusalem, 1985), p.268. 

/ Chaim Weizmann, Zionist Policy - an address, London, 21 September 1919, p. 15. 
^ / Interview between Dr. Weizmann and Dr. D. Shiels, 4 Marchl930, p. 3, (WA). 

— 35 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Arabs to Transjordan by saying that one "had to stabilise conditions in the country.... 
Transjordan might be a way out." 

Weizmann pointed out that the root of the trouble was that "in the dead of night 
Transjordan had been separated from Palestine" and that Jews were now prevented from 
settling there. He continued, "Now that one found oneself in difficulties in Palestine, surely if 
we could not cross the Jordan the Arabs. could. And this was applicable to Iraq." Passfield 
answered "that he was convinced he would have to consider a solution in that direction." (i) 

It would seem that Weizmann did not confine these ideas just to conversations, but acted 
in secret to implement them. This we can conclude from a telegram marked "Confidential" sent 
by him to a certain Felix Green in June 1930. In it he asks to be sent "all available information 
about Vadizorka and Hauran in Transjordan. Quality and available land. Density nature 
population." (^) 

It was at this period, that in a letter to Felix Warburg, Weizmann wrote that one of the 
Arab leaders had sent him a message that in his [the Arab leader's] opinion, "Transjordan can 
be built up, and with opportunities created there this country could be placed at the disposal 
of Arabs who may choose to leave Palestine." In order to perform such a development [and 
hence a transfer of Arabs!], the government of Transjordan would require "a loan of one million 
pounds, to be guaranteed in a proper business way." (') In a further letter written by Weizmann 
to Warburg a few weeks later, he wrote that he had "meanwhile been discussing" such a loan, 
with, amongst others. Baron Edmond de-Rothschild, "and they are all greatly in favour of 
the idea and would be prepared to work out the details of such a scheme when it becomes 
really alive. In my opinion, the whole solution of our difficulties lies in such a scheme." (^) 

We might mention here that at that period, Weizmann was not the only Zionist leader 
proposing transfer of Arabs to Transjordan. In his diary Ben-Gurion wrote, "there is 
Transjordan, in it is available space. It is possible to transfer there the Arabs from Palestine." 


The Shaw Report was published at the end of March 1930, and a further report by Sir 
John Hope Simpson dealing with "Immigration, Land Settlement and Development" in 
October of that same year. The findings and recommendations of these two reports were 
embodied in the British Government's Statement of Policy popularly known as the "Passfield 
White Paper" and was issued simultaneously with the Hope Simpson Report. This White 
Paper would effectively have put an end to the rebuilding of the Jewish National Home in 

A few weeks later, Weizmann had an article published in the "Week End Review". In 
this article, he challanged the White Paper by pointing out that whereas under the terms of 
the Mandate, Jews had first claim to "State lands for the purpose of close settlement", the 
British Government now wanted to do the opposite and give landless Arabs first priority. 

As a solution to this, Weizmann put forward the idea of transferring Arabs from 
Palestine to Transjordan. He first pointed out that Transjordan is legally part of Palestine, 
has a cultivatable area equal in size and that its people were of the same race, language and 
culture and were thus indistinguishable from the Arabs of Western Palestine. He then 
continued, "It is separated from Western Palestine only by a narrow stream [Jordan River] ... it 
would be just as easy for landless Arabs or cultivators from congested areas to migrate to 
Transjordan as to migrate from one part of Western Palestine to another." (^) 

At that period, pressure was being put on the British Government by both Jews and non- 
Jews to modify its policy, and as a result of this pressure the Government issued a new 
document (the MacDonald letter), to serve as an authoritative interpretation of the Passfield 

/ The Letters and Papers of Chaim Weizmann, Series B - Papers, (Jerusalem, 1983), (henceforth Weizmann Papers), 
vol.1, paper 116, pp.591-92. 

^ /Telegram, Weizmann to Green, 23 June 1930, (WA). 
3 /Weizmann to Felix Warburg, 15 May 1930, pp. 5-6, (WA). 
* / Weizmann to Felix Warburg, 17 June 1930, p.2, (WA). 
^ / David Ben-Gurion, Handwritten Diary entry, 24 June 1930, p. 11, (BGA). 

/Chaim Weizmann, "The Palestine White Paper", Typewritten copy of article appearing in "Week-End Review" 
dated 1 November 1930, (WA) ; Weizmann Papers, vol.1, paper 120, pp. 605-06. 

— 36 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

White Paper. A committee composed of members of the Government and of the Jewish Agency 
had several joint meetings in order to reach agreement on the contents of this letter. 

Towards the end of one of these meetings, held at the Foreign Office in London on 5 
December 1930, Weizmann again put forward his proposal on the transfer of Arabs from 
Palestine to Transjordan. He asked the meeting that "consideration be given to the 
development of the Negeb as well as the country east of the Jordan". He pointed out that 
Transjordan was "practically an empty country" which was slightly larger in cultivatable 
area than western Palestine. Weizmann considered that "Transjordania afforded a vast 
reserve for colonization, and for the trans- migration of Arabs from the congested area cis- 
Jordan (western Palestine) to vacant lands in Trans-Jordania", adding that no real effort in 
this direction had yet been made. It should be. noted that although Weizmann referred to the 
development of both the Negev and Transjordan the "trans-migration of Arabs" from 
Palestine was to be to Transjordan only. 

The Foreign Secretary, Arthur Henderson, stated that "some actual agreement with the 
Arabs on this question was essential." Weizmann pointed out that it was in the interests of 
the projected pipe line and railway from Iraq to Haifa to develop and to settle a stable 
population in Transjordan, and added that the Arab Prime Minister of Transjordan had 
recently agreed with him that this was a practicable proposition, provided that some sort of 
assistance was offered by Britain. Henderson then admitted that "this proposal was worthy 
of consideration", adding that it was a "big question" which involved "big difficulties." (^) 

About that period, a similar proposal was put forward by the Executive of the Zionist 
Organisation working together with a special Political Committee which had been set up to 
deal with the Passfield White Paper. This we know from a memorandum written by Felix 
Rosenbleuth (later Pinhas Rosen, the first Minister of Justice of the State of Israel) for the 
Executive of the Jewish Agency. In this memorandum, Rosenbleuth "summarizes the 
conclusions arrived at by the Zionist Executive and the Political Committee." On the question 
of Transjordan the memorandum states: "Half of this area [Transjordan] should be allotted for 
the settlement of Arabs from those districts of Western Palestine which are regarded as 
conjested, while the other half is to be reserved for the colonisation of landless Jews." (^) 
Another Zionist organisation to come out in favour of Arab transfer to Transjordan was the 
Directorate of the Jewish National Fund. (') 

We have already shown that the idea of transferring Arabs from Western Palestine to 
Transjordan, was not limited to Zionist leaders. Further confirmation of this fact comes from 
Chaim Arlosoroff, who in a lecture to the Mapai Council in May 1930, reported on talks he 
had had in London. He said that the British government "considers Transjordan as if it was a 
reserve land for the transfer of Arabs whose land [in Western Palestine] had been purchased 
from them [by the Jews]." He also got the impression that "they think that also the Jews will 
participate financially in the resettlement of Arabs in Transjordan." 

Arlosoroff told the Mapai Council that he thought that this approach would 
substantiate the main conclusion of the Shaw report, that in Western Palestine there was no 
available land. This would be political suicide for the Zionists. "Also our friends will thus 
begin to think that the Jews will not be able to manage in Palestine without export of Arabs." 

Arlosoroff was however not against the principle of transfer of Arabs from place to 
place. This we can see in a letter which he wrote to Weizmann in December 1932, in which he 
put forward a proposal for transfer of Arabs. He was dealing with the proposed purchase of 
lands in the Huleh area, and he pointed out that they were at the time owned by Effendis, 
most of whom were living in Syria and Lebanon. Arlosoroff wrote, "There are about twenty- 

/ Minutes of Meeting between Members of Cabinet and Representatives of Jewish Organisations, Foreign Office 
London, 5 December 1930, C.P.I. (30) 3rd Conference, p.l3, (CZA L9/376). 

/ Memorandum by Felix Rosenblueth "To the Executive of the Jewish Agency", 26/27 November 1930, p.l. 
Addendum entitled Transjordan, (CZA A185/130). 
3 / Minutes of Directorate of Jewish National Fund (JNF), 29 April 1931, p. 12, (CZA). 

/ Lecture by Arlosoroff on the Situation in Zionism, (May 1930), pp.3-4, (Mapai, file 22/1). 

— 37 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

seven villages on these lands with a population of about 1200 families. If these lands pass 
into our hands it would be possible to transfer part of the [Arab] people to other lands." (^) 

Weizmann's transfer plans were however, (in private at least!), much bolder than those 
of Arlosoroff's. When in March 1931 Weizmann visited Palestine, he had a meeting with the 
then High Commissioner, Sir John Chancellor, who was an anti-Zionist. At this meeting 
Weizmann again put forward his suggestion for transferring Arabs from Palestine to 

The question of developing land for settlement had come up when Weizmann "referred 
to the question of the development of Trans-Jordan. He believed that there was much to be 
done in that country and that the Amir Abdullah could be persuaded to agree to the 
Development Commission expending some of its funds on developing land in Trans-Jordan for 
the settlement of the Palestinian Arabs." 

Chancellor, however, did not agree with the feasibility of such a plan and told 
Weizmann "that was quite out of the question at the present time." He explained that "the 
Trans-Jordanians were very narrow and provincial in their outlook. They regarded 
Palestinian Arabs as foreigners; and the feeling among them was at present so strong on the 
subject that any suggestion for the development of Trans-Jordan for the benefit of the 
Palestinian settlers would be most inopportune." (^) 

Although willing in private meetings to advocate Arab transfer, Weizmann's public 
utterances on transfer during this period were quite different. In a published interview 
between Weizmann and representatives of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, given at the 
beginning of July 1931, Weizmann said, "1 have no sympathy or understanding for the demand 
for a Jewish majority (in Palestine)... The world will construe this demand only in one sense 
that we want to acquire a majority in order to drive out the Arabs." (^) 

Weizmann and the British Colonial Secretary 

On 19 July 1937, about a fortnight after the publication of the Peel Report on Palestine, 
Weizmann had a secret meeting with the British Colonial Secretary, William Ormsby-Gore, 
and his deputy. Lord Dufferin. At this meeting, they discussed a number of subjects connected 
with the Peel partition plan, including sovereignty; the inclusion of the new Jewish suburbs of 
Jerusalem within the Jewish State; the potash and the Rutenberg electric works; the transfer 
of population and the transition period. After this meeting, Weizmann wrote a document 
recording the substance of the meeting. 

A few weeks later in Zurich, Meir Grossman, leader of the Jewish State Party, (which 
was a splinter group of the Revisionists), informed the twentieth Zionist Congress, then 
debating the Peel Report, that he had evidence that Weizmann had already agreed to the 
partition proposals. "1 have in my hand a document which contains the details of a 
conversation held between Weizmann and Ormsby-Gore. In this conversation they discussed 
the conditions under which - if accepted - Weizmann would support the partition proposals." 
Grossman went on to accuse Weizmann of two-faced politics, claiming that without permission 
of the Congress or the Zionist General Council, Weizmann had gone to the British Government 
and prejudiced the Congress's deliberations. "1 find Weizmann guilty of a severe breach of 
discipline." (^) 

The purloined document was reproduced in full a few days later by "The Jewish 
Chronicle". The document began by describing how Ormsby-Gore had asked Weizmann what 
his attitude was towards the Peel Commission's proposals, now that he had had time to read 
the Report. Weizmann replied that he had come to Ormsby-Gore in order to clarify a number 
of points. The Jews were perplexed and a great number of them were against the partition plan 
and that it would be his duty to explain his attitude at the forthcoming Zionist Congress. 

^ / Arlosoroff to Weizmann, 26 December 1932, (CZA S25/795). 

2 / Note of Interview given to Dr. Weizmann by the High Commissioner, 20 March 1931, pp.5-6, (PRO CO 733/203 


^ / "A Jewish Majority", The Jewish Chronicle, (London), 10 July 1931, p.28. 

* / Official Minutes of 20th Zionist Congress (Zurich 1937), p.93. 

— 38 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Amongst its proposals, the Peel Commission had recommended a transfer of population, 
compulsory if necessary. Paragraph 3 of Weizmann's document dealt with this and showed 
his complete identification with this proposal. 

"3. Transfer of the Arab population: I said that the whole success of the scheme 
depended upon whether the Government genuinely did or did not wish to carry out this 
recommendation. The transfer could be carried out only by the British Government, and not by 
the Jews. I explained the reasons why we considered this proposal of such importance. Mr. 
Ormsby-Gore said that he was proposing to set up a Committee for the twofold purpose (a) of 
funding land for the transferees (they hoped to find land in Transjordan, and possibly also in 
the Negev), and (b) of arranging the actual terms of the transfer. He mentioned the name of 
Sir John Campbell, who had had much experience in connection with transfers of population 
between Greece and Turkey, and who knew all about the matter. He agreed that once Galilee 
was given to the Jews, and not the Negev, the position would be very difficult without 

Weizmann's document concluded by noting that towards the end of his interview, 
Ormsby-Gore had asked him what his own personal opinion was. Weizmann told Ormsby- 
Gore that "if the points which I had raised in the interview were settled to our satisfaction, I 
personally would look with favour on the scheme." Weizmann informed Ormsby-Gore that he 
would repeat in confidence the contents of this interview to his closest friends in Zurich and to 
all the members of the Permanent Mandates Commission. 

The document was said to be signed "Ch. W." and dated 19.7.37. (^) 

A few days later on 17 August, the British daily newspaper, the "Evening Standard", 
printed an almost full-page article headed "The Admirals are After Me About Haifa - What 
Ormsby-Gore is alleged to have told Weizmann." [Under the Peel Commission's 
recommendations, the port of Haifa was eventually to become part of the proposed Jewish 

The "Evening Standard" correspondent wrote that on 17 August, he had discussed the 
publication of the document by continental telephone with Weizmann who was in Zurich. 
Weizmann had replied that he knew that a document had been published which was said to 
be his report of a conversation between himself and Ormsby-Gore adding that he had not seen 
the publication and could therefore not vouch for its accuracy. 

"I did, in fact, make a confidential report of a conversation with Mr. Ormsby-Gore. If 
this document is that report, I do not know how Mr. Grossman obtained it. He had no business 
to publish it. There is nothing in it which needs to be hidden, but it is a report of a private 
conversation between the Secretary of State and myself and nobody has the right to disclose 
it." In conclusion, Weizmann said that he intended to get a copy of the document, to find out 
how Grossman obtained it, and then take appropriate measures. Ormsby-Gore declined to 
comment on the document. 

Meir Grossman had told the Zurich correspondent of the "Evening Standard" that he 
had received the document which he had produced at the Zionist Congress from a source 
which he could not disclose and had published it in Zurich in a newspaper circulating solely 
to Congress members. (^) An internal Colonial Office note (signature of author illegible!) 
confirmed that the report of this confidential conversation between Weizmann and the 
Colonial Secretary "is being circulated as a pamphlet in Geneva." (^) 

In her diary entry for 7 August 1937, Blanche Dugdale, one of Weizmann's advisers, 
recorded that Arthur Lourie, Political Secretary of the Zionist Executive in London, suspected 
a Revisionist named Bach of purloining this document. (*) 

The "Evening Standard" also reprinted the entire document word for word from "The 

/ "Congress Rejects Partition Plan", The Jewish Chronicle, (London), 13 August 1937, pp.24-25. 

/ "The Admirals are After Me About Haifa", Evening Standard, (London), 17 August 1937, p.4. 
3 / Note from ? to Boyd and Downie, 17 August 1937 (?), (PRO CO 733/352/75718/21). 

^ I Blanche Dugdale, Diary entry 7 August 1937, (WA) ; Baffy - The Diaries of Blanche Dugdale 1936 - 1947, ed. N.A. 
Rose, (London, 1973), p.59. 

— 39 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Jewish Chronicle. {^) In the course of the following days, several other British newspapers, 
including the "News Chronicle", (^) the "Morning Post" (^) and the "Manchester Guardian" C) 
reproduced extracts from the "Jewish Chronicle's" text of this conversation, although none of 
them included in their extracts, the section dealing with transfer. 

The publication of Weizmann's memorandum on his secret meeting with Ormsby-Gore 
put Weizmann in a very embarrassing position and on 18 August, a day after the appearance of 
the article in the "Evening Standard", Weizmann sent a telegram of explanation to Ormsby- 
Gore, "Deeply regret any personal inconvenience caused you by publication uncorrected minute 
our conversation obtained by illicit means and used by insignificant unscrupulous opposition 
group." (') 

On 24 August, Ormsby-Gore wrote to Weizmann rebuking him for the leakage and 
adding, "I understand from your telegram that you do not deny the authenticity of the 
document which is quoted but merely assert that it was 'uncorrected'." (^) 

In order for the High Commissioner of Palestine, Sir Arthur Wauchope, to be in the 
picture, on 24 August Sir Cosmo Parkinson, the Permanent Under-Secretary at the Colonial 
Office, at the request of Ormsby-Gore, sent Wauchope a copy of Weizmann's telegram and a 
copy of the letter of reply that Ormsby— Gore had written to Weizmann. (') 

In a letter of extreme apology to Ormsby-Gore, Weizmann denied authorship of this 
document, "I am particularly sorry, that you should assume that I was the author of the notes 
in question. This is not the case; they are rough notes made by the secretary on the basis of my 
report of our conversation to my colleagues, and the notes were neither seen nor corrected by 
me. I saw them for the first time in Zurich printed in some newspapers." (*) 

Futhermore, on his return to England in mid-September, Weizmann went to see Sir John 
Shuckburgh, the Deputy Under-Secretary of State at the Colonial Office, about this matter, 
and assured him "solemnly that he himself had never recorded a single line on paper about 
the interview." He had only reported on this conversation to some of his colleagues and one of 
them had dictated this conversation without his knowledge as rough notes which one of his 
enemies had stolen them from his office. (') 

What was the authenticity of the document produced by Meir Grossman at the Zionist 
Congress and subsequently published in "The Jewish Chronicle" and the "Evening Standard"? 
The public release of the private papers of Weizmann has now made this document available 
to the public. It is marked "secret" and is headed "Summary Note of Interview with Mr. 
Ormsby-Gore Colonial Office Monday July 19th 1937 at 10.45 a.m." The document is written 
entirely in the first person (with one exception towards the end of the document where the 
third person, "Dr. Weizmann" is used). The end of the document is initialled (in type) Ch.W. 
and dated London 19.7.37. (i° ) 

A comparison of this document with that published at the time in the press show the 
two, to be word for word identical, including of course the paragraph dealing with "Transfer 
of the Arab population." [There are a few insubstantial words which differ, but this is almost 
certainly due to errors occuring during the newspaper printing process.] Furthermore, Ben- 
Gurion recorded in his diary that the content of the conversation between Weizmann and 
Ormsby-Gore was dictated by Weizmann to Arthur Lourie. (^' ) 

/ Evening Standard, 17 August 1937, op. cit. 

/ "Admirals After' Mr. Ormsby-Gore", News Chronicle, (London), 18 August 1937, p.2. 

/ "Mr. Ormsby-Gore and Dr. Weizmann", Morning Post, (London), 18 August 1937, p. 10. 

/ "An Ormsby-Gore-Weizmann Conversation", Manchester Guardian, 20 August 1937. 
^ / Telegram, Weizmann to Ormsby-Gore, 18 August 1937, (WA). 
'' / Ormsby-Gore to Weizmann, 24 August 1937, (WA). 

/ Extract from semi-official letter from Sir Cosmo Parkinson to Sir Arthur Wauchope, 24 August 1937, (PRO CO 

^ / Weizmann to Ormsby-Gore, 4 September 1937, (PRO CO 733/352 F 75718/21) ; The Letters and Papers of Chaim 
Weizmann, Series A - Letters, (Jerusalem, 1979), (henceforth Weizmann Letters), voLxviii, no. 175, p. 192. 
'^ I Shuckburgh to Ormsby-Gore, 15 September 1937, (PRO CO 733/352/75718/21). 
^^ / Note of interview with Ormsby-Gore, 19 July 1937, (WA). 

" / David Ben-Gurion, Handwritten Diary entry 19 July 1937, (CZA S25/179/11) ; Ben-Gurion Memoirs, vol.4, op. 
cit., p.307. 

— 40 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Why did Weizmann deny authorship of the document at the time? We assume that he 
was endeavouring to extricate himself from an embarrassing situation with Ormsby-Gore 
with whom it was important that he remain on good terms. 

Not only was this affair an embarrassment to Weizmann, it also embarrassed at least 
one of the Directors (Leonard Stein) of the "Jewish Chronicle". In a letter to the Editor 
published in the 10 September issue, he wrote that "I strongly disapprove of the publication 
of this document in the Jewish Chronicle." (^) A month later he wrote to Ormsby-Gore, 
pointing out that although he strongly disapproved of the publication of the document, he 
was satisfied that the "Jewish Chronicle" had not obtained it in an improper manner. Their 
representative had been shown the Bulletin of the Jewish State Party which contained the 
full text of this document which he then transmitted to the "Jewish Chronicle" offices in 
London. (^ ) 

Minutes of this meeting, although in a much condensed form, were also written up by 
Ormsby-Gore. He noted that Weizmann made it clear that he was "going to do his best to get 
the Zionist Congress to accept partition." Ormsby-Gore then listed the various points made by 
Weizmann at the meeting. With regard to transfer, Weizmann said, "The Jews can't take (an) 
active part hough they will help in getting Arabs out of Galilee into Trans-Jordan - e.g. places 
like the Zerka Valley - but some transfer is vital to the success of the scheme." (^) 
Weizmann's comments on the Arabs of Galilee are of particular interest. The Peel Report 
recommendation on transfer limited the transfer of the Arabs from this area to transfer on a 
voluntary basis. However, Weizmann exceeded these recommendations by telling the 
Colonial Secretary that the Jews would even "help in getting Arabs out of Galilee." - this was 
despite the fact that they could not take an "active part" in implementing the transfer of 

Blanche Dugdale "Baffy", a niece of Balfour, was a non-Jewish British Zionist who 
constantly tried to influence Cabinet Ministers and High Commissioners, by personal contact 
and in writing, stressing the justice of the Jewish cause in Palestine. On the day of the meeting 
with Ormsby-Gore she wrote in her diary, "To Z. O. [Zionist Office] to hear Chaim's account 
of his interview with Billy [William Ormsby-Gore] this morning. Billy appears to have 
agreed that all the main Jewish points should be favourably considered." (^) Ben-Gurion 
recorded in his diary that he suggested that Weizmann immediately write to Ormsby-Gore 
confirming the content of their conversation. Ben-Gurion added that at first Weizmann 
disagreed, but following a discussion with him, Weizmann took his advice and sent such a 
letter to Ormsby- Gore. C) 

Weizmann began his letter by thanking Ormsby-Gore and Lord Dufferin for sparing him 
so much of their time. He explained that in a few weeks time, he would have to face a highly 
critical assembly - the twentieth Zionist Congress. "It is due to them as much as to you that I 
should not risk misunderstanding your view on the matters we discussed. Forgive me, 
therefore, for enumerating the points one by one." He then enumerated the points which 
agreed with those in the document mentioned above (except that points 3 and 4 had been 
interchanged). His letter was a summary of his document, and the paragraph dealing with 
the transfer of population read: 

"4. Transfer of Population. 

You were good enough to go in some detail into the practical arrangements you are 
already contemplating for giving effect to this recommendation. I was reassured to find that 
you agree with me about the crucial importance of transfer for the success of a partition 

/ Leonard Stein, Letters to the Editor, The Jewish Chronicle, (London), 10 September 1937, p.25. 

2 / Stem to Ormsby-Gore, 4 October 1937, (PRO CO 733/352/75718/21) 

3 / Minutes of meeting between Ormsby-Gore and Weizmann, 19 July 1937, (PRO CO 733/328/4 6029) ; Minutes in 
Handwriting of Ormsby-Gore, (PRO CO 733/352 75718/21). 

^ I Blanche Dugdale, Diary entry 19 July 1937, (WA) ; Baffy, op. cit., p.52. 

^ / David Ben-Gurion, Handwritten Diary entry 19 and 20 July 1937, (CZA S25/179/11) ; Ben-Gurion, Memoirs, vol.4, 

op. cit., p.307. 

— 41 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

We can see that Weizmann makes no reservation whatsoever about implementing the 
transfer compulsorily, if necessary. 

Finally, Weizmann reminded Ormsby-Gore that at the end of the previous day's 
conversation "which dealt with these major points, I told you that if they could be 
satisfactorily settled, I should personally support acceptance of the partition scheme." {^) 

It is of interest to note, that Weizmann headed his private document "Transfer of Arab 
population" whereas in his letter to Ormsby-Gore he wrote "Transfer of population" (i.e. 
transfer of both Arabs and of Jews). Perhaps, there is no significance to be attached to this. On 
the other hand, this may indicate Weizmann's bias towards the transfer of Arabs out of the 
proposed Jewish State rather than the transfer of Jews from the proposed Arab State. 

Weizmann together with Ben-Gurion had also met with the Colonial Secretary, a few 
weeks earlier, on 28 June. The Peel Report, which was already in the hands of the 
Government, had not yet been put on sale to the public and even the Zionist leaders had not 
yet been informed of its contents. At this meeting, Ormsby-Gore gave Weizmann and Ben- 
Gurion an outline of some of the contents of the Report. 

With regard to the transfer of population, Ormsby-Gore stated "that he thought that 
the Arabs in the Jewish part would have to be transferred." The notes on this conversation 
were written up by Ben-Gurion and he reported Weizmann's reply as, "This was a procedure 
which we had recommended long ago, but it had so far been regarded as impracticable." To 
the copy of these typewritten notes at the Weizmann Archives an amendment had afterwards 
been added in ink. The words "we had recommended... impracticable" had been crossed out 
and in their place was handwritten "the Jews as a people with hostages throughout the 
world, would have to be very cautious in applying, though it might be done." (^) This 
handwritten amendment does not however appear in the copy at the Central Zionist 
Archives. (^) This would seem to indicate that the amendment was written in at a later date - 
namely, after the circulation of the minutes! [A copy of the minutes at the Ben-Gurion 
Archives is only a photocopy of those in the Weizmann Archives, (as evidenced by the stamp 
of the "Weizmann Archives"), and so cannot add anything to this point.] 

Who wrote in this handwritten amendment? According to the Staff of the Weizmann 
Archives it was definitely not written by Weizmann or Ben-Gurion, though it might well 
have been written by Weizmann's secretary in London, Miss Doris May. (^) In fact it is 
difficult to see why such an amendment was made. As we have seen earlier, both Ben-Gurion 
and Weizmann had in previous years suggested to the High Commissioners of the time, that 
Arabs from Palestine be resettled in Transjordan. The Colonial Secretary had almost certainly 
been informed of these ideas, and thus there was no reason for not giving him the reply 
originally typed in the minutes of this meeting. Maybe it was an amateurish attempt to try 
and hide the fact from future historians that the Zionist leaders had in the past proposed 

An interesting twist occurred in mid-1941, when Weizmann had a discussion with 
thirty-one leading American Zionist and non— Zionist personalities, in New York. During the 
course of this discussion, Weizmann referred to the Peel Commission's transfer proposal. "You 
remember," he said, "one of the decisions of the Royal Commission carried dynamite - the 
transfer of the Arab population, and I think you will bear it out, in camera audience, I was 
speaking against it, and I said that it will be done..." (^) 

As we have just seen, the complete opposite was the case - Weizmann spoke up very 
much in favour of this population transfer recommendation! The Editor of Weizmann's 
published papers could not allow such an obviously untrue statement to go uncommented upon. 

^ / Weizmann to Ormsby-Gore, 20 July 1937, (PRO CO 733/352 F 75718/21) ; Weizmann Letters, vol.xviii, op. cit., 

no.l59, pp.179-80. 

2 / Note of Conversation with Ormsby-Gore, 28 June 1937, p.3, (WA). 

/ Summary Note of Conversation with Ormsby-Gore, Colonial Office London, 28 June 1937, p.3, (CZA Z4/17069). 

/ Private Communication from Staff of Weizmann Archives, 12 December 1984. 

/ Private Luncheon Conference called by Dr. Chaim Weizmann, St. Regis Hotel Roof, 25 May 1941, p. 13, (WA); 
Weizmann, Papers, vol.2, paper 52, p.428. 

— 42 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

that he added in a footnote (in a very restrained manner!), "Perhaps this was imperfectly 
recorded, as the meaning is obscure. W. [Weizmann] did not express opposition to the Peel 
recommendation of a transfer of populations." (^) 

However, in the very same speech, just a few sentences later on, Weizmann did propose 
transfer of Arabs! He said: "We can acquire a great deal of land in Trans-Jordania or Iraq. We 
shall see that you [the Arabs] are colonised and that you get 5 dunams of land [outside 
Palestine] for every dunam we get [from you in Palestine]." (^) A discussion followed 
Weizmann's speech but no-one cruiticised this transfer proposal. (^) 

Weizmann's Letters 

Weizmann wrote a great abundance of letters, thousands in the course of his Zionist 
career! In a number of his letters written at the period of the publication of the Peel Report, 
he naturally discussed the population transfer proposal advocated by this Report. 

A few days prior to his meeting of 19 July, Weizmann had written to Ormsby-Gore 
asking him for "authoritative information on certain points." He said, "Among these points, 1 
will cite here first the vital question of transfer. The proposed boundaries of the Jewish State 
are so narrow that the policy to be pursued as regards transfer will be one of the primary 
considerations determining the decision of the Jewish people." He then asked what the 
intentions of the British Government were with regard to the paragraph in the Report 
recommending transfer, compulsory if necessary. (^) 

At the end of September, Weizmann wrote a long letter to Jan Christiaan Smuts, the 
Prime-Minister of South Africa during the previous decade, who was a supporter of the 
Zionist cause. In this letter, he used much more guarded and cautious language. "Transfer of 
Population. The very restricted area of the proposed Jewish State makes some arrangement 
for the gradual transfer of its Arab population absolutely essential. This will be a difficult 
and delicate process; its desirability is mentioned by the Royal Commission, but definite and 
precise arrangements with the Mandatory Power and with the Arab State would be necessary 
for its successful execution." (^) In the two and-a-half months between writing the letters to 
Ormsby-Gore and Smuts, there had been some hostile reactions to the population transfer 
proposal. This may be the reason for Weizmann's more guarded language when writing to 
Smuts. However, even in this letter, Weizmann in no way withdraws his support for a 
compulsory transfer. 

From a letter written by Weizmann in mid-July to Professor William Rappard of 
Geneva, who was a member of the Permanent Mandates Commission we can see that 
Weizmann was pleasantly surprised by the Peel Commission's recommendation for population 
transfer. He wrote that there were many disappointing features in the Peel Commission 
Report when compared with his expectations "but several things are somewhat better; the 
most important of them all is : Galilee and the question of transfer of population - a very 
difficult and delicate problem." (^) 

Both the twentieth Zionist Congress in Zurich and the Geneva sessions of the Permanent 
Mandates Commission took place during the first half of August. On 14 August, towards the 
end of the deliberations of these two bodies, Weizmann wrote to Pierre Orts, the President of 
the Permanent Mandates Commission, saying that he would like to summarise several points 
to which the Zionist Congress attached the highest importance, in order to complete the notes 
and verbal explanations which he had given to Orts. (') A footnote in Weizmann's published 
volume of letters states that these notes could not be traced. 

One of the points concerned the transfer of population. "The Transfer Commission. My 

/ Weizmann, Papers, vol.2, paper 52, p.428 fn. 

/ Private Luncheon Conference called by Dr. Chaim Weizmann, 25 May 1941, op. cit., pp. 13-14. 
3 / Ibid., pp.15-19. 

* / Weizmann to Ormsby-Gore, 14 July 1937, (PRO CO 733/352 F 75718/21) ; Weizmann Letters, vol.xviii, op. cit., 
no.l39, pp.154-55. 

^ / Weizmann to Smuts, 29 September 1937, p.8, (WA) ; Ibid, no.200, p.220. 
^ / Weizmann to Rappard, 18 July 1937, (WA) ; Ibid., no.l56, p. 167. 
^ / Weizmann to Orts, 14 August 1937, p.l, (WA) ; Ibid., no.l68, p. 185, (English translation). 

— 43 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

colleagues and I attach the greatest importance to this question and we do not delude 
ourselves as to its difficulties. But the many concrete advantages, which the transferring body 
offers to us, to the Arabs and to the cause of peace between the two peoples and the two states, 
lead us to hope that the solution suggested by the Peel Commission be not dismissed out of 
hand, and that the instrument designed to put it into effect be formed according to this 
principle. Of course we do not propose to have recourse to constraint or to exercise any coercion 
whatsoever: only those who wish will be transferred and those who prefer to stay will stay." 
Weizmann suggested that after the creation of a Jewish State, many of the Moslems and other 
indigenous persons would wish to leave, in the same way as after the conquest of the Caucasus 
by Russia, many of the Moslems preferred to emigrate to Turkey. He then wrote about the 
liquidation of property and the economic life of the Jewish State following transfer, (i) 

One immediately notices from this letter that Weizmann is talking about a voluntary 
transfer of Arabs. Up to now, in his letters and private memoranda, he talks about the 
"crucial importance" of implementing the Peel Commission's recommendation on transfer - a 
recommendation which included compulsion, if necessary. Furthermore, in his letter of 14 July, 
Weizmann specifically queries the Government's intentions regarding the implementation of 
"Paragraph 43 of Chapter xxii of the (Peel) Report" - the paragraph dealing with 
compulsory transfer. Why then this change of heart? 

We can only suggest the following reasons. This letter was written to the President of 
the Permanent Mandates Commission, which was at that time at an advanced stage of its 
deliberations on the Peel Commission's recommendations on Palestine. Early on in these 
proceedings, the President himself had asked Ormsby-Gore to confirm "that in the event of 
the creation of the two new states, the proposed transfer of the rural Arab populations would 
only be effected if those populations freely consented." In other words, at that stage the 
President was against a compulsory transfer of population. [It seems that when he summarised 
all the evidence at the end of the sittings of this Commission, he arrived at the conclusion 
that a transfer would have to be compulsory.] Weizmann, who was a politician with several 
decades of experience, therefore realised that it would not be prudent to ask the President to 
put a compulsory transfer into effect. 

Another possibility is that Weizmann is not speaking only for himself in this letter but 
for "My colleagues and I". Since some of his colleagues were against a compulsory transfer, 
Weizmann spoke of a voluntary transfer. 

Nearly two years later, in early 1939, the British convened a conference of Jewish and 
Arab leaders at St. James's Palace in London. The Arabs, however, refused to meet with the 
Jews and the British were thus forced to negotiate in separate sessions with the Jewish and 
Arab leaders. However, some unofficial contacts did take place between the Jewish leaders 
and delegates from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. In one of his letters, Weizmann wrote that 
during the course of these unofficial meetings with the Iraqis, he had on several occasions put 
forward a proposal regarding transfer and had "more than once struck a responsive chord". He 
added that "one of the Iraqi delegates with whom I became rather friendly indicated that he 
would be prepared to take an active part in helping such a project forward." Weizmann also 
felt that this transfer suggestion "would be received particularly favourably if the initiative 
came from America." (^) Weizmann did not state who this Iraqi delegate was but it was quite 
possibly Tewfiq Suwaidy. 

A meeting had also taken place between Pinhas Rutenberg and Suwaidy, and at a 
meeting of the Jewish Agency in London which was held in late March of that year, Rutenberg 
delivered a report on it. He had tried to enlist Tewfiq's approval for an extended building 
plan and "hinted also on the possibility of population transfer." Tewfiq reportedly replied, 
"You come to conquer a land which is not yours; this will not take place and will never be." (^) 

Weizmann, however, thought that Suwaidy would be amenable to influence. He said 

' / Ibid., pp.3-4 ; Ibid., pp.186-87, (English translation). 

/ Weizmann to Goldm 
^ / Moshe Shertok, Hani 
(Tel- Aviv, 1974), p. 186. 

2 / Weizmann to Goldman, 28 April 1939, (WA) ; Ibid., vol.xix, no.52, pp.54-55. 

3 / Moshe Shertok, Handwritten Diary entry 22 March 1939, (CZA S25/198/1) ; The Diaries of Moshe Sharett, vol.iv. 

— 44 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

that "Suwaidy was ready with his colleagues to create a movement by which Palestinian 
Arabs would go to Iraq, provided the Jews would help develop that country." Rutenberg 
replied that although "it would be useful to make an effort with Suwaidy", he himself did 
not believe that Suwaidy could deliver the goods. Weizmann said that he would continue his 
conversation with Suwaidy in Egypt. (^) 

About three weeks later, Weizmann, together with Dr. Dov Joseph, arrived in 
Alexandria, Egypt. That day, a Sephardi Jewish lawyer from Paris, named Metrani, visited 
them and had a private conversation with Weizmann. Following this conversation, 
Weizmann briefly reported on its substance "which related to Tewfiq Suweidi's readiness 
under certain conditions to assist in the promotion of a project for the settlement of Palestinian 
Arabs in Iraq." 

Joseph then drew Weizmann's attention to the "importance of any such project being 
presented to the Arab public as a purely Arab project put forward because of the interest of 
Iraq in increasing its population and developing its vast uncultivated areas." Putting it 
forward as a Jewish project would cause the Arabs to boycott it. If however, Iraqi government 
leaders "could be persuaded to commence propaganda among the Arabs of Palestine to move to 
Iraq" then the Jews could take part in the project and then start buying land in Palestine. 
Joseph urged that payment should be made in a number of instalments so that it could be 
stopped if it were to be found that the Arabs were not living up to their agreement. 

That evening, when Weizmann met with Tewfiq, their discussion included "the question 
of the settlement of Palestinian Arabs in Iraq." During this conversation, Tewfiq said that it 
did not matter what the Mufti thought. Provided that the arrangement was considered by the 
Arab states to be reasonable, the Arabs of Palestine would accept it. 

On the following evening, Metrani came to see Weizmann. They discussed "Tewfiq 
Suweidi's attitude to the proposed scheme of transfer of Arabs from Palestine to Iraq." (^) 

As we shall see later, at about the same period, in a letter to an American Zionist 
leader, Solomon Goldman, Weizmann stated that there was a possibility of acquiring a large 
tract of land from the Druze community in northern Palestine and transferring the Druze 
living there to outside Palestine. 

From all this we can see that although the British had officially abandoned the Peel 
Commission partition proposals, which included the transfer of population, Weizmann was 
still actively working on the idea of the transfer of the Arab population from Palestine. 

Weizmann's Hints at Transfer 

On no fewer than four further occasions during the 1930s and 40s, Weizmann, in meetings 
with prominent non-Jews would drop strong hints or make mild proposals on the desirability 
of transfer of the Arabs from Palestine; (as we can see, in private he was much more 

1. In 1933, Weizmann put forward in a letter to Alexis Leger, a non-Jew, a cautious 
proposal regarding transfer of Arabs. In a project which he had prepared and despatched to 
the French authorities, who were at the time the Mandatory power for Syria and Lebanon, 
Weizmann wrote, "On the attached plan I have indicated, approximately, two small areas of 
land adjoining Lake Tiberias and Lake Huleh, [both on the Syrian side of the border] 
respectively, which we are interested in acquiring (privately) in order to reserve them for 
Jewish settlement or, perhaps, to transfer there at a later moment a certain number of Arabs 
from northern Palestine, if they themselves would want this." Weizmann trusted that Henri 
Ponsot, the High Commissioner for Syria and Lebanon, would have no objection to such a 
transfer, provided that a cordial agreement was concluded with the Arabs concerned. (') 

2. As early as 1931, Weizmann had proposed the transfer of Arabs from Western 

/ Minutes of Jewish Agency Executive, Loncion, (henceforth J.A. Exec, London), 22 March 1939, p. 3, (CZA 

2 / Dr. Joseph's Diary Notes, 10 April 1939, pp.3-4, 7, (CZA S25/43). 

3 / Weizmann to Leger, 17 June 1933, (WA) ; Weizmann to Leger, 15 June 1933 (Rough draft in EngUsh), (WA) ; 
Weizmann Letters, vol.xv, (Jerusalem, 1978), no.426, p.461, (English translation). 

— 45 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Palestine to Transjordan. When in 1936, the Peel Commission came to Palestine and took 
testimony from a number of people, Weizmann gave some of his testimony in camera. On 26 
November, he brought up the question of Transjordan and strongly hinted at the possibility of 
it being the destination for transferred Arabs. Weizmann had claimed that he had 
repeatedly been asked that the Jews help in the development of Transjordan. He then stated, 
"There is no question that there should be any mass immigration [of Jews] into Transjordan, or 
that there should be any desire artificially to induce Arabs in Palestine to go to Transjordan. 
It could happen in a perfectly natural way." He explained that if an area of Transjordan 
adjacent to Western Palestine were to be developed, this might produce an "infiltration" of 
Jews and Arabs into Transjordan. (^) 

3. In a memorandum written by Weizmann to the High Commissioner, Sir Harold 
McMichael, regarding the status of the Woodhead Commission, he referred to the proposal 
by the Peel Commission for the transfer of Arabs and then wrote, "The possibilities offered by 
the Peel scheme thus become substantial, assuming that certain modifications could be 
secured, and that the transfer scheme could, with the help of H. M. Government, be made 
effective, and carried out within a reasonable period of time." In the months following the 
publication of the Peel Report, the British Government changed its attitude towards transfer. 
Weizmann observed that the British Government had announced "that the transfer would in 
any event be a very slow process" and that when "defining the frontiers of any proposed 
Jewish area, great care must be taken to include as few Arabs as possible within them." 
Weizmann held that this retreat from transfer by the British Government was harmful, and 
wrote that "these statements [by the British] lend themselves to all kinds of interpretation" 
and arouse the Arabs from making peace. (^) 

4. At the end of an meeting held between Weizmann and the American Assistant Under- 
Secretary of State, Sumner Welles in December 1942, Welles asked Weizmann whether the 
Zionists were thinking of the transfer of Arabs from Palestine. As was usual with Weizmann 
when asked this sort of question by some outsider, he gave a vague woolly answer! "I am 
thinking more in terms of development, and if the development is real, and done on a large 
scale, there is enough room for everybody, and there may be a voluntary transfer of Arabs from 
congested areas to less congested areas, when they have been developed. But we would not 
speak of it. If it comes spontaneously, well and good." (' ) 

We might mention here that just a few months later, a different assessment of the 
Zionist intentions in this matter was given by General Patrick J. Hurley, who had been 
appointed by President Roosevelt to observe and report directly to him on the general 
conditions prevailing in the Middle East. Naturally, unlike Weizmann, Hurley did not mince 
his words, and in a letter written by him to Roosevelt in May 1943, he wrote, "For its part, the 
Zionist organization in Palestine has indicated its committment to an enlarged program for (1) 
a sovereign Jewish State which would embrace Palestine and probably Transjordania, (2) an 
eventual transfer of the Arab population from Palestine to Iraq." (*) 

Meeting with Leaders of the British Labour Party 

At the end of November 1939, three months after the start of the Second World War, 
the Zionist leaders, Weizmann, Shertok, Locker and Bakstansky had a meeting with the 
Leader of the British Labour Party, Major Clement Attlee and with Tom Williams. The 
minutes of this meeting, held at the British Parliament Building were written up by Shertok. 

As stated in these minutes, during the course of the meeting, Weizmann "put the Zionist 
case quite briefly". He mentioned the two main points emerging from the Peel Report, namely 
the "idea of a Jewish State and the idea of a transfer of population" and said that the events 
of the past two years had strengthened the validity of these two points. He felt that as a 

/ Weizmann Papers, vol.2, p. 127. 
2 / Ibid., pp.305-06. 

/ Interview with Under-Secretary of State Sumner Welles, 4 December 1942, Additional notes, (CZA Z5/1377). 

/ Hurley to President Roosevelt, 5 May 1943, Foreign Relations of the United States, Diplomatic Papers 1943, vol.iv. 
The Near East and Africa, (Washington, 1964), (henceforth FRUS), p.777. 

— 46 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

result of the war, the Jewish position would become much worse, and "moreover, the idea of 
transfer of population was bound to become more acceptable to men's minds because the 
settlement eventually to be reached could not take the form of merely drawing new territorial 
frontiers. Clearly populations would have to be shifted, and the world would become more 
accustomed to this idea." Weizmann considered that Palestine would be able to absorb three 
or four million Jewish immigrants, not in one go but within a measurable period of time. "We 
must have some territorial basis there", said Weizmann, "and that would mean an improved 
Peel scheme, possibly Palestine west of the Jordan, with some transfer of a part at least of the 
Arab population." He concluded that this should all be linked up with some kind of 
federation of the neighbouring Arab States. O 

With regard to the transfer of the Arab population, two points emerge from the above. 
Firstly, Weizmann is not presenting a purely personal view, but he is putting "the Zionist 
case". Secondly, only two years earlier, Weizmann had given the small territorial area 
allocated to the Jewish State by the Peel Commission, as the reason for transferring the Arab 
population. Now, at this meeting, the Zionist demand was for a much larger territorial area - 
"possibly Palestine west of the Jordan" - whilst still insisting on "some transfer of part at 
least of the Arab population". According to the historian Walter Lacqueur, at the beginning of 
the war, Weizmann put forward this proposal with increasing frequency. (^) 

One of these occasions was during a meeting held with the Russian Ambassador, Ivan. 
Maisky. From Weizmann's diary, we can see that the date of this meeting was on 30 January 
1941. ('). At this meeting the Arab-Jewish question was discussed. After Weizmann had 
answered Maisky that the only solution to the Jewish problem was Palestine, Maisky replied 
that "there would have to be an exchange of populations". To this Weizmann replied "that if 
half a million Arabs could be transferred, two million Jews could be put in their place. That, 
of course, would be a first installment; what might happen afterwards was a matter for 
history". Maisky replied that Russia had had to deal with exchanges of population. 
Weizmann replied "that the distances they had to deal with in Palestine would be smaller: 
they would be transferring the Arabs only into Iraq or Transjordan". Maisky then asked 
whether there might be some difficulty in transferring a hill-country population to the 
plains. Weizmann then answered: "a beginning might be made with the Arabs from the Jordan 
Valley; but anyway conditions in Transjordan were not so very different from those of the 
Palestine hill-country". (*) The historian Benny Morris reports that Maisky's report on this 
meeting, which can be found in the archives of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 
confirms this conversation on the transfer of Arabs. (^) 

Meeting at New Court 

At the beginning of September 1941, Weizmann and Selig Brodetsky, discussed with 
Anthony de Rothschild, the possibility of reaching a modus vivendi between the Zionists and 

Anthony de Rothschild was a leading non-Zionist communal figure in Britain, who 
although opposed to Jewish statehood, recognised the urgent necessity of absorbing some of 
the refugees from Europe into Palestine. Weizmann suggested that a meeting take place 
between the Zionists and members of Rothschild's own group. (^) 

The meeting took place at New Court in London on 9 September and was attended by over 
twenty people. Just over half the participants were Anthony de Rothschild's friends and the 
remainder were Zionists. Opening the meeting, Rothschild stated that its purpose was to try 
to find common ground from which to deal with the problems to be faced after the war. (') 

/ Note of Conversation with Attlee and Williams, 30 November 1939, p.2, (WA). 

/ Walter Laqueur, A History of Zionism, (New York, 1972), p.539. 

/ Weizmann Letters, vol.xx, (Jerusalem, 1979), no.267, p.276, fn.l. 

/ J.A. Exec, London, 30 January 1941, p.2, (WA). 

/ Benny Morris, "Ma Mistater m'achorai haShichtuv?", Alpayim, (Tel-Aviv), vol.14 (1997), p. 199, fn.lO. 

/ Weizmann to Sacher, 4 September 1941, (WA) ; Weizmann Letters, vol.xx, (Jerusalem, 1979), no. 179, p. 194. 

/ Note of Meeting held at New Court, London, 9 September 1941, p.l, (WA). 

— 47 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

The future of Palestine, naturally, featured prominently in the discussion and when the 
question of boundaries came up, Weizmann pointed out (as stated in the minutes) that "the 
question of boundaries also raised the question of transfer of population. Such transfer might, 
of course be entirely voluntary. If, for instance, they could transfer those Arab tenants who 
owned no land of their own (he believed there were about 120,000 of them) they would be able 
to settle in their stead about half a million Jews." {^) 

We see from these minutes that Weizmann said that the transfer of Arabs "might be 
entirely voluntary" as distinct from "must be". He was obviously still undecided as to 
whether these transfers should be "entirely voluntary" or whether compulsion should be used. 

About a fortnight later, Weizmann sent a copy of these minutes to Harry Sacher 
pointing out that they were "only being circulated to our side." (^) This was a most unusual, if 
not improper action to circulate minutes of a meeting to a section only of the participants. 
However, it shows that the minutes were written up by someone on the Zionist side, if not by 
Weizmann himself. There was obviously something in these minutes that Weizmann did not 
want Rothschild to see! 

At the end of the meeting, Weizmann was charged with the preparation of a 
memorandum which he began by stating that there was "general agreement on the following 
points." (^) in connection with transfer, Weizmann wrote, "In that State there will be 
complete civil and political equality of rights for all citizens, without distinction of race or 
religion, and in addition the Arabs will enjoy full autonomy in their own internal affairs, but 
if any Arabs did not wish to remain in a Jewish State, every facility will be given to them for 
transfer to one of the many and vast Arab countries." (*) Here, the transfer of Arabs is clearly 
of a voluntary nature. However, this does not necessarily reflect Weizmann's personal view as 
the memorandum summarised the "general agreement" of the meeting. Most of the 
participants were hostile to Zionism and the establishment of a Jewish State and had 
expressed great concern at this meeting on the future of the non-Jewish inhabitants of 
Palestine. Unlike the minutes, this memorandum was sent to Anthony de Rothschild to 
distribute to the friends he had invited to this meeting. (^) 

A few months later, Weizmann publicly endorsed transfer, albeit of a voluntary nature, 
when he repeated almost word for word in the American journal "Foreign Affairs" what he 
had written on transfer in this memorandum. (^) 

Attitude of Weizmann towards Transfer 

Following tributes paid to Weizmann on the B.B.C.'s Third Programme in December 
1963, the correspondence columns of the "Jewish Observer and Middle East Review" included 
an argument as to Weizmann's attitude towards the transfer of Arabs. Boris Guriel, Director of 
the Weizmann Archives, claimed that Weizmann had favoured transfer; Sir Leon Simon, a 
leading British Zionist, took the opposite view. 

To substantiate his case, Guriel quoted a letter that Weizmann had written to Sir Leon 
Simon in November 1941. "I can see no reason why we could not do the same thing that the 
Greeks did after the last war. Whether it would take five years or three or seven, whether it 
would be two million or three, I cannot say." Guriel claimed that Weizmann was advocating 
applying the precedent of the Greco-Turkish population transfer of the 1920s to the Arabs of 
Palestine. (') Simon answered that this letter had nothing to do with population exchange 
but dealt with "what an independent State can do when it wants to bring masses of people 
rapidly into its territory." (^) In fact, both interpretations are plausible. 

1 /Ibid.,p.4. 

/ Weizmann to Sacher, 25 September 1941, (WA) ; Weizmann Letters, vol.xx, op. cit., no. 186, p.200. 

/ Weizmann Letters, vol.xx, op. cit., no.l86, p.201. 
^ / Weizmann to RothschUd, 30 September 1941, (WA) ; Weizmann Letters, vol.xx, op. cit., no.l88, p.204. 

/ Chaim Weizmann, "Palestine's Role in the Solution of the Jewish Problem", Foreign Affairs, (New York), vol.20, 
no.2, January 1942, p.337. 

/ "Was Boothby Right?" Jewish Observer and Middle East Review, (L), 7 February 1964, p.9. 

/ Leon Simon, Letters to the Fditor, Jewish Observer and Middle East Review, (London), 21 February 1964, p.26. 

— 48 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

In subsequent correspondence, Guriel quoted from the minutes of the meeting at New 
Court and Weizmann's subsequent memorandum, (i) For his part, Simon quoted from 
Weizmann's speech to the British Zionist Conference of 1919 adding that "if Mr. Guriel, 
presuming to speak in the name of the Weizmann Archives, now wants us to beheve that the 
policy of which Weizmann expressed such whole-hearted abhorrence in 1919, was at any time 
Weizmann's own policy, those of us (who) have some regard for Weizmann's reputation have 
a right to demand much more convincing evidence than Mr. Guriel has yet produced in support 
of so grave an imputation on the character of a leader to whose heritage he claims to adhere." 


All this was written in 1964. Since that time the "much more convincing evidence" 
demanded by Simon has become available by virtue of archives in Britain and Israel being 
opened up to historians. Such archival material (as shown earlier) clearly shows how in the 
1930s and early 1940s, Weizmann was a strong supporter and proposer of transfer of the Arabs 
from Palestine, especially at the time of the Peel Commission. He considered the 
Commission's recommendation on transfer, (compulsory if necessary), to be vitally important. 
Indeed, Weizmann proposed still more extreme measures than those advocated by the 
Commission; according to the British Colonial Secretary, he said that the Jews "will help in 
getting Arabs out of Galilee into Trans-Jordan." As we shall see later, Weizmann supported 
the plan of Harry St John Philby - in fact, the historian Ilan Amitzur described Weizmann's 
support of this plan as "enthusiastic" (^) - and made efforts to advance the transfer plans of 
Edward Norman, even to the extent of advancing financial support. 

All this, however, Weizmann did in closed meetings and private correspondence, a fact 
commented upon by both Professor Joseph Nedava(^) and Christopher Sykes,(') the son of Sir 
Mark Sykes. In public, however, Weizmann invariably repudiated such ideas! 


Nachman Syrkin, who was born in Russia in 1868, was associated with Zionist 
Movement from its inception, and participated in the First Zionist Congress, leading the 
small group of socialist Zionists. His aim was the complete synthesis of socialism with 
Jewish nationalism as embodied in Zionism. Syrkin was also a prolific writer in several 

In 1898, Syrkin wrote a pamphlet entitled "Die Judenfrage und der socialistische 
Judenstaat" (The Jewish Question and the Socialist Jewish State). Under the heading "Land 
Purchase" he wrote, "The first and foremost territory to be considered for the Jewish State is 
Palestine - the ancient birthplace of the Jews." After listing various ways of acquiring 
Palestine from the Turks, Syrkin concluded that the best way of securing the country was for 
the various peoples under Turkish domination to join forces in rebellion thus liberating 
themselves from the Turkish yoke. 

Syrkin then proposed population transfer as a solution to some of the problems of the 
region. "In places where the population is mixed," he wrote, "friendly population transfer 
and division of territory should ensue. The Jews should receive Palestine, which is very 
sparsely settled and where the Jews even today comprise ten per cent of the population. The 
Jews should form an alliance with the peoples who are oppressed by Turkey and strive for a 
just division of the subjugated empire." 

Syrkin hoped that the European states would be in favour of Jews settling Palestine 
since the Europeans would thus free themselves of their Jewish population whilst enabling 
Asia to develop both economically and culturally. However, Syrkin urged that if after all 
their efforts the Jews were unsuccessful in obtaining Palestine, they should chose another land 

/ Boris Guriel, Letters to the Editor, lewish Observer and Middle East Review, (London), 6 Marcl964, p.21. 
/ Leon Simon, Letters to the Editor, Jewish Observer and Middle East Review, (London), 13 March 1964, p.25. 
/ Ilan Amitzur, America, Britain and Palestine, (Jerusalem, 1979), p. 128. 
/ Nedava, Forum (on the Jewish People, Zionism and Israel), op. cit., p. 104. 
/ Christopher Sykes, Cross Roads to Israel, (London, 1965), p.312. 

— 49 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

"which will be vacated for them by means of money." (^) 

The proposal by Syrkin in 1898 for the transfer of Arabs from Palestine, seems to be the 
first published scheme of this kind. Although Herzl had put forward his plans for the 
removal of the indigenous population from the Jewish State, three years earlier, his 
proposals were made in his private diary, and it was not until three decades later that this 
was published. 


Arthur Ruppin who was born in 1876 was described as the "father of Zionist settlement" 
in Palestine. He paved the way from the political Zionism of Herzl to pragmatic Zionism. In 
1908, the Zionist Executive appointed him head of their Palestine office and from then until 
his death in 1943, he was responsible for the work of settlement in Palestine. In the course of 
his work, he encouraged and assisted in the acquisition of large tracts of land in the Jezreel 

In May 1914, Ruppin put forward his plan for the transfer of Arabs from Palestine to 
Syria, in a letter written to Dr. Victor Jacobson, who from 1908 had been head of the 
Constantinople branch of the Anglo-Palestine Company and unofficial diplomatic 
representative of the Zionist Organisation in Turkey. In his letter to Jacobson of 12 May 1914, 
Ruppin wrote, "We are considering a parallel Arab colonisation. Thus, we are planning to buy 
land in the region of Homs, Aleppo etc. which we will sell under easy terms to those 
Palestinian fellahin who have been harmed by our land purchases." [The city of Homs, 
originally known as Emesa is in central Syria, in the great Orontes plain; Aleppo, also known 
as Haleb, is the second largest city in Syria, and is in the centre of northern Syria.] 

Thus Ruppin's plans involved buying land for these Arabs, not in another part of 
Palestine, but outside the country - in Syria. 

Ruppin added that this method would only be considered if there were large scale 
Zionist colonisation. At that time, the Zionists were not making large land purchases and so 
there was no cause for Arab fears. "We will need to consider in earnest this problem," wrote 
Ruppin, "when the planned purchases in the Jezreel Valley are carried out." (^) [The Jezreel 
Valley is an area in the north of Israel, where in 1911, the pioneer settlement of Merchavia 
had been founded. In 1920, after three. decades of negotiations, Yehoshua Hankin finally 
succeeded in purchasing from an absentee Arab family, seventy thousand dunams of land in 
the Jezreel Valley and within a few years, about twenty settlements were established in the 

On 28 May 1914, Jacobson, replying to Ruppin's letter, disagreed with Ruppin's plan to 
transfer the Arabs to Syria. In his opinion, this transfer of population would substantiate the 
Arab fears that the Jews intended to drive them from their land. Jacobson therefore felt that 
it was better not to make public mention of such a plan, nor to seek a solution in that direction. 


However, less than two decades later, Jacobson was to change his view completely on 
transfer. At the beginning of 1932, he put forward his own plan for the partition of Western 
Palestine. After designating the areas to be allocated to the Jews and the Arabs respectively, 
Jacobson said that it would be difficult to implement the partition unless 120,000 Arabs were 
to be transferred, with compensation, from the designated Jewish areas. Such transfer would 
strengthen the internal security of the Jewish State and decrease the danger of any local Arab 
rebellion. (*) 

Also, in a memorandum written in French and dated January 1932, on a "Territorial 

/ "Ben-Eliezer" (pen-name for Nachman Syrkin), Die Judenfrage und der Socialistische ludenstaat, (Bern, 1898), 
pp.59-61; Writings of Nachman Syrkin, arr. B. Katznelson and Y. Kuperman, (Tel-Aviv, 1939), pp.53-54. 

/ Ruppin to Jacobson, 12 May 1914, pp. 1-2, (CZA L2/34ii) ; extract reprinted by Paul Alsberg, "The Arab Question in 
the Policy of the Zionist Executive before the First World War", Shivat Zion, (Jerusalem), vol.4, 1955/6, pp. 206-07. 
3 / Jacobson to Ruppin, 28 May 1914, (CZA L2/34ii). 
* / Shmuel Dothan, The Struggle for Eretz-lsrael, (Tel-Aviv, 1981), pp.76-77. 

— 50 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Solution" Jacobson put forward his plan for the partition of Palestine and transfer of Arabs. In 
his plan, the Jewish part of Palestine would be called Eretz-lsrael and the Arab part 

In connection with transfer, Jacobson wrote,"One can easily imagine conditions in which 
a considerable portion of ... Arab farmers would decide to move their homes and go to set 
themselves up, with the economic and financial assistance of the Jews, in other parts of the 
Confederation: in Syria, Transjordan, or even in Iraq or [the Arab part of] Palestine. To put into 
effect, in these modest proportions of several thousand men, this exchange of populations 
would not provoke any serious agitation and would be considered quite natural ..." (^) 

At the end of 1933, Jacobson met separately with Jabotinsky, Ben-Gurion and Farbstein, 
[the last-named was a leader of the "Mizrachi" Religious Zionist party], in order to discuss 
his plan. Jacobson urged that the Jewish Agency Executive demand that Britain transfer from 
sixty to seventy thousand Arabs out of the Jewish areas, replacing them within a short space 
of time by one hundred and fifty to two hundred thousand Jews. (^) 

As we shall see, less than four years later, the Peel Report was to recommend similar 
ideas, involving the partition of Palestine and the transfer of Arabs from the Jewish area. 

During the period Ruppin was advocating his population transfer proposal, a number of 
Zionist leaders put forward similar suggestions. For example, the Hebrew writer, pioneer and 
future President of the World Zionist Organisation, Nahum Sokolow had in 1914 played with 
the idea of a population transfer. (^) However, a few years later Sokolow wrote a letter "in 
which he warns Weizmann, on grounds of political inexpediency, against a plan then afoot to 
expropriate Arab landlords from Palestine. (*) 

At the tenth Zionist Congress held in Basle in 1911, Joshua Buchmil put forward a 
transfer proposal to the Palestine Committee of the Congress. Buchmil was a Zionist leader 
who had been a militant opponent of the Uganda scheme. In 1906, he had been sent by the 
Odessa Committee of Hovevai Zion to Palestine in order to study the economic and legal 
aspects of Jewish colonisation. 

In his transfer proposal, Buchmil suggested that in order to facilitate the purchase of 
land in Palestine, land be purchased in Northern Syria and Iraq to which the Arabs from 
Palestine be transferred, thus leaving land in Palestine vacant for the Jews. (^) 


Leo Motzkin who was born in 1867, was a protagonist of the struggle for Jewish rights in 
the Diaspora. He joined the Zionist Organisation at its outset and at its First Congress in 
Basle in 1897 headed a group of Zionists who demanded that the "Basle Programme" be so 
formulated as to leave no doubt that Zionism aimed to create a Jewish State based on 
international agreement. 

Motzkin was also active in the German Zionist Organisation and served on its Executive. 
The thirteenth Conference of German Zionists was held in the city of Posen and opened on 27 
May 1912. At every Zionist Conference a special lecture was delivered on the work in 

At the thirteenth conference, the lecture was given by Motzkin on the subject of "Unsere 
Palastinapolitik" (Our Palestine Policy). Towards the end of his lecture, Motzkin spoke on 
the Arab question. "There is no doubt," said Motzkin, "that one of our most difficult tasks will 
be to accustom the Arabs to the thought that Palestine is a Jewish land - Eretz Israel. The fact 
is, that around Palestine there are extensive areas. It will be easy for the Arabs to settle 
there with the money that they will receive from the Jews." 

Motzkin then considered the Arab-Jewish problem in the wider framework of settlement 

/ Jacobson to Weizmann, "Un aide-memoire sur la 'Solution Territoriale'", 20 January 1932, p.6, (WA) ; Neil Caplan, 
Futile Diplomacy, vol.2, (London, 1986), p. 185, (English translation). 

/ Dothan, Struggle for Eretz-lsrael, op. cit., p. 81. 

/ Laqueur, History of Zionism, op. cit., p.231. 

/ Sykes, Cross Roads to Israel, op. cit., p.61 fn.l. 
^ / Zalman David Levontin, L'Eretz Avoteinu, (Tel-Aviv, 1924), Book 2, p.l87. 

— 51 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

in both Palestine and Syria. "We are observing not just Palestine alone, but Palestine and 
Syria together, and we see in the colonisation of the areas an advantage for the two peoples 
from the point of view of history and economics." {^) 

In an unpublished paper entitled "The Basis of Zionism and the Way to build up 
Palestine" written at the end of 1918, Motzkin again advocated the transfer of the Arab 
population from Palestine to the various Arab lands. He pointed out that the slogan of the 
men of the Second Aliyah was "Jewish labour". Until then, there had been mainly Jewish 
owners and Arab labour. At this period, the Jewish farmers were asked to employ only Jewish 
workers. It was hoped that this would mean that "many Jewish farmers and managers of 
public institutions would gradually dismiss their Arab workers and employ Jews in their 
stead." He then pointed out that this policy went counter to socialist ideology which 
demanded equality between members of different races. 

According to Motzkin there was a simple solution to this problem. The Jews and the 
Arabs should come to a political agreement regarding "the transfer of population from 
territory to territory." When this was proposed in 1914 it was impossible of achievement as 
the Turks ruled in the land. Without Palestine in its entirety, there was no meaning to such an 
agreement. For this reason, the Zionists made known in the summer of 1916 that the Arab 
question could be solved not by propaganda or theoretical discussions but only by a political 
revolution. Motzkin considered that the Arab question could strengthen "political Zionism". 

He went on to explain that the meaning of "political Zionism" was the methodical 
purchase of land together with Jewish settlement and Jewish labour and peaceful agreement 
with the local population. It was obvious that the problem would not be an easy one. 
Agreement would come on a political or economic basis, since territorial concessions were not a 
realistic proposition. 

"Our thoughts were then that settlement needs to move in two directions," continued 
Motzkin, "namely Jewish settlement in Palestine and the resettlement of the Arabs of 
Palestine in areas outside of Palestine." The transfer of an appreciable population, which at 
first seemed overwhelming from the financial angle, was a matter not impossible of 
accomplishment. It would not require very large sums of money in order to resettle the 
inhabitants of an Arab village on other land and to provide for their needs there. (^) 

In 1931, Motzkin was again involved in a population transfer proposal. Santo Semo, a 
Parisian engineer, had submitted to Motzkin, then President of the seventeenth Zionist 
Congress, his plan for a radical solution of the Palestine problem. Santo Semo saw the solution 
of the Palestinian problem not so much from the political viewpoint as from the economic and 
ethnic point of view. He proposed the formation of a Jewish-Arab organisation having as its 
task the transfer of Arab peasants from Palestine to Iraq. He listed the advantages of his 
plan and the precedents for population transfer. (') 

Motzkin, however, did not bring Semo's proposal to the attention of the Congress, since 
he regarded Semo as an impractical visionary and therefore did not seriously relate to his 
plan. (^) 


Akiva Ettinger, an agricultural expert, was founder and administrator of Jewish 
settlements in Palestine. He played a prominent role on behalf of the Jewish National Fund in 
the purchase of land. 

In 1909-10 Ettinger went on a study tour of Iraq. In his memoirs published in the winter of 
1936-7, he observed that although Iraq would not be suitable for Jewish settlement, there was 
room for "many more millions of additional inhabitants." Dr. Michael Heymann, a former 
Director of the Central Zionist Archives in Jerusalem, observes that it is "interesting to note" 

/ Leo Motzkin, "Unsere Palastinapolitik", luedische Rundschau, (Berlin), no.28, 12 July 1912, p.261. 
2 / Sefer Motzkin, ed. Alex Bein, (Jerusalem, 1939), pp.163-64. 

/ Santo Semo, "Une Solution Radicale du Probleme Palestinien", Paris, 1931, p.l, (CZA L9/41). 

/ Michael Heymann, The Zionist Movement and the schemes for the settlement of Mesopotamia after Herzl, (Tel- 
Aviv, 1965), p.53, fn. 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

that these memoirs were pubhshed at the time when the Peel Commission was in Palestine 
and the Zionist leaders were hard put to find new solutions to the Arab problem. Hence 
"population exchanges were of extreme importance." Heymann feels therefore that the timing 
of the publication of Ettinger's memoirs was not coincidental. He adds that some years after 
the publication of these memoirs, Ettinger "advanced a proposal for the resettlement of 
Palestinian Arabs in unpopulated areas of Iraq in order to make room for Jewish settlement in 
Palestine." {^) 

In the summer of 1940, Akiva Ettinger wrote a paper on "Population Exchange" which 
was published in the Palestinian journal "Bacur", and in October 1941. this same article 
appeared in English in a condensed form in the "Jewish Frontier" {^). (This was possibly the 
proposal referred to by Heymann.) He considered that at that period there was no need to 
transfer the non-Jewish population from Palestine. However, he felt that should the rate of 
Aliyah to Palestine increase, it could be possible that the Arab population would become an 
irredenta, and one therefore needed to plan ahead and examine the question of population 
exchange. (^) 

Ettinger wrote that since about 1910, a number of people had recognised the positive 
value of population exchange and saw in it a way to peace and political and economic 
recovery of complete nations. He corrected the misconception that large population transfers 
in the Balkan states were only implemented after the First World War. Even before that 
time, he pointed out there was a population exchange between Bulgaria and Turkey. He went 
on to detail other population exchanges which followed in the subsequent years. Ettinger 
showed that after the Greco-Turkish population exchange, the relationship between these 
two nations completely changed for the better - arguments ceased and a friendly political 
relationship came about. (^) 

He then went on to discuss the transfer question in connection with Palestine. He pointed 
out that officially the question had been raised by the Peel Commission, but this commission 
tied its own hands by suggesting that one should search for water in the Negev and in 
Transjordan for the Arabs. This was however doomed to failure since there was no 
organisation apart from the Jews who was prepared to make the necessary effort to find such 
water. He went on to argue that even if one were to find sufficient water and transfer the 
Arabs to these areas, it would only be a temporary solution, and one would then be forced to 
find other solutions. One of these solutions was the transfer of Arabs to Iraq and he pointed out 
why Iraq, who lacked population, was the best solution. (^) 

Ettinger then referred to the fact that there were Arabs who had proposed the 
emigration of Jews to Arab countries. This he immediately dismissed as lacking any sense, 
since it was impossible to establish a Jewish minority in the same countries which until very 
recently had tried to crush its Jewish minority. In contrast, Ettinger held that there were 
unlimited possibilities for Arab transfer to Iraq, where the conditions would be ideal. ('') 

He then pointed out the necessity for the Jews of Europe to leave that continent, and 
they would then be able to settle on the land vacated by the Arabs moving to Iraq. He added 
that it would not be necessary to do a lot of research on this question since it had already been 
carried out during the previous twenty years. There would however be groups who would try 
to prevent implementation of such a transfer and it was thus necessary to have arguments 
ready to refute these groups. C) 

Ettinger continued by outling some of the points involved in this scheme which included 
the purchase of Arab land in Palestine. He felt sure that Iraq, which was underdeveloped 
agriculturally, would thus be interested in the plan. 

/ Heymann, The Zionist Movement, op. cit., p.52. 

/ Akiva Ettinger, "Population Transfers", Jewish Frontier, (New York), vol.viii, no. 10(82), October 1941, pp.17 - 20. 

/ Akiva Ettinger, "Population Exchange", Bacur, (Tel-Aviv), 1941, p.41. 

/ Ibid., pp.42-44. 

/ Ibid., pp. 45-46. 

/ Ibid.,p.46. 

/ Ibid., p. 47. 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Ettinger concluded that although the population exchange as outlined in this paper 
involved serious problems, both Jews and Arabs would be interested in finding solutions to such 
problems. (^) 

In his book, "Am Haklaim Ivrim B'Arzenu", published in 1945 Ettinger writes of his 
frequent discussions with Berl Katznelson on the question of transfer. The two men agreed on 
the need for massive voluntary Jewish immigration to Palestine and hoped that in a similar 
way "many of our (Arab) neighbours will go to the neighbouring countries" which were rich in 
fertile land and in great need of an increased population. Ettinger further writes that in 1942, 
Katznelson published Ettinger's survey and suggestions on transfer. Subsequently, someone in 
America criticised Ettinger for publishing these proposals. He reported this criticism to 
Katznelson who said that he had expected this attitude from "blind" people but "it does not 
matter. The subject will attract the hearts of many individuals and especially of progressive 
nations." (^) 


Israel Zangwill, the Anglo-Jewish writer, was born in 1864, and was the author of many 
ghetto studies, ghetto tragedies and ghetto comedies. 

Zangwill Perceives Arab Problem in Palestine 

In 1895, Zangwill saw the significance of Zionism and became a follower of Herzl. In 
April 1897, he was a member of a group of English Jews who went on a pilgrimage to Palestine. 
They arrived on the day before Pesach at Jaffa, travelled by train to Jerusalem where they 
spent the first days of the Festival; this included the holding of an English style service at 
the Western Wall, prior to their Seder at a nearby Jewish hotel. During the course of the 
Intermediate Days of the Festival they toured the country. 

In the course of this visit, Zangwill had the opportunity to see the Arab problem at first 
hand. In one of his meetings with Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the father of the Modern Hebrew 
language, Zangwill raised the question of the Arab problem, asking him how the Jews and 
Arabs would succeed in living together and whether there was room in so small a country for 
two peoples. Ben-Yehuda did not see this as such a problem. On the contrary, in his opinion it 
was essential to help the Arabs to establish schools in which they would learn Arabic and 
Hebrew, thus increasing the Arabs' cultural level and developing a common language between 
the two peoples. Zangwill was not happy with Ben-Yehuda's answer and felt that his vision 
of the Hebrew language had distorted his objectivity. (') However, it took Zangwill a few 
years to formulate his own solution to the Arab problem. 

In the December 1904 edition of the American Jewish newspaper "The Maccabaean" 
appeared an article by Zangwill entitled "Zionism and England's Offer". In the course of this 
article Zangwill put forward his proposal for the transfer of Arabs from Palestine: "There is, 
however, a difficulty from which the Zionist dares not avert his eyes, though he rarely likes 
to face it. Palestine proper has already its inhabitants.... So we must be prepared either to 
drive out by the sword the tribes in possession as our forefathers did, or to grapple with the 
problem of a large alien population, mostly Mohammedan and accustomed for centuries to 
despise us." He also felt that the Zionists must extend their "idea of Palestine", mentioning 
the Euphrates, the border of Egypt and Mesopotamia (Iraq) as her true boundaries. (^) 

In a half-page advertisement in the same edition of "The Maccabaean" (^) and in a 
further advertisement in the same paper in the following March, (^) this article was described 

1 / Ibid. 

^ / Akiva Ettinger, Am Haklaim Ivrim BArzenu, (Tel-Aviv, 1945), p.204. 

/ Joseph Nedava, "Israel Zangwill and the Arab Problem", Ha-umma, (Jerusalem), fourth year, 2 (14), October 1965, 

/ Israel Zangwill, "Zionism and England's Offer", The Maccabaean, (New York), vol.vii, no.6, December 1904, p.281. 
^ / Joseph Leftwich, Israel Zangwill, (New York, 1957) pp.204-05. 

/ Advertisement, "Zionism and England's Offer", The Maccabaean, (New York), vol.vii, no.6, December 1904, p.310. 

— 54 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

as an "Address" - the December edition in fact headed this advertisement "A Notable and 
Brilliant Address". We can thus see that Zangwill had spoken on this subject to an audience. 
His biographer, Joseph Leftwich, quotes Zangwill as saying that he made this speech in New 
York in 1904. (i) The identity of the audience and the exact date of delivery have not been 

It was "The Maccabaean" who reprinted and put on sale 10,000 copies of this article. 
Obviously, one cannot say that the paper's description of this address as "A Notable and 
Brilliant Address" was due to the population transfer proposal contained in it. However, one 
can say that this proposal did not prevent its being described in these terms or its being 
reprinted in large numbers, for sale to the general public. 

In April 1905, Zangwill delivered the above speech (with some minor changes) to a 
crowded meeting in Manchester, England. (^) 

The seventh Zionist Congress of 1905 finally rejected the offer to establish a Jewish 
State in Uganda. Following this rejection, Zangwill founded the Jewish Territorial 
Organisation, which was dedicated to the establishment of a Jewish autonomous settlement 
in any part of the world. 

He thus lost interest in the transfer of Arabs from Palestine until the First World War, 
when he returned to the Zionist fold and accordingly returned to his proposal as summed up in 
the words of Professor Nedava, "The Arabs of Palestine must vacate the land designated to be 
the Jewish State." (') 

Lecture to Fabian Society 

In a lecture delivered to the Fabian Society in December 1915, Zangwill broached his 
plan for the transfer of the Arabs from Palestine. [The Fabian Society was founded in 1883 by 
a small group in London who aimed at reconstructing society in accordance with the highest 
moral possibilities.] 

In his lecture, Zangwill considered that even under British suzerainty, the restoration 
of the Jews to Palestine would not be easy. He felt that despite all the magnificent 
colonisation efforts of the Jews in Palestine "now, alas! half destroyed", they still had "too 
few vested interests in the soil to have a claim to it on any basis of Realpolitik." He pointed 
out that even before emigration during the War, the Jewish population of Palestine was only 
one hundred thousand, and they possessed only two per cent of the land. "Unless therefore, 
the Arabs would trek into Arabia, or could be peacefully expropriated, any Government set up 
on a constitutional democratic basis would result, not in a Jewish autonomy but in an Arab 
autonomy." (*) A few years later, Zangwill was to write that if the Jewish National Home 
were "to be built up without an Arab trek, it can only be by methods strictly unconstitutional." 


Zangwill repeated his plan in a popular monthly, a still more popular Sunday paper 
and in an address to the National Liberal Club. This Club was established in 1882 and was one 
of the more important clubs in London. It was full of sympathy with Zangwill's contention 
that only by being in the majority could the Jews build up their Model State. (^) 

Zangwill's Conversation with Jabotinsky 

In the summer of 1916, Zangwill met in Preston, near London, with Vladimir Jabotinsky. 
Over twenty years later in 1939, Jabotinsky wrote an account of his "Conversation with 
Zangwill" which mainly dealt with Zangwill's proposals for the Arabs of Palestine. This 
topic was introduced by Zangwill who asked Jabotinsky what he would do with the Arabs if 

' / Ibid., vol.viii, no.3,March 1905, p.l34. 

/ "Mr. I. Zangwill on the East African Question", The lewlsh Chronicle, (London), 14 AprU 1905, p.24; Speeches, 
Articles, and Letters of Israel Zangwill, ed. Maurice Simon, (London, 1937), pp.210-11. 

/ Nedava, Ha-umma, op. clt., p.211. 
^ I Israel Zangwill, The War for the World, (London, 1916), p.342. 

/ Israel Zangwill, The Voice of Jerusalem, (London, 1920), p. 108. 

/ Israel ZangwUl, Letters to the Editor, The Jewish Chronicle, (London), 20 December 1918, p. 15. 

— 55 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

the Jews got a Charter for Palestine. Jabotinsky rephed that the classic answer that there 
was enough room in Palestine on both sides of the Jordan for six or eight million people and 
the Arabs only numbered half a million. "All this is just idle chatter", replied Zangwill, 
adding that people, such as Jabotinsky, from Eastern Europe considered it quite normal for 
more than ten minority groups to be found living together in a small area. However, peoples 
from Western democracies would see this as a disease for which there could be no cure. "To 
allow such a situation in our Jewish State would be like gorging out our eyes with our hands. If 
we receive Palestine, the Arabs will have to 'trek'." 

As we see, Zangwill was very fond of using the word 'trek' in connection with the fate of 
the Arabs of Palestine. The origin of the word is from the Boers of South Africa, who in the 
first third of the twentieth century began a mass migration from Capeland to Transvaal in 
order to free themselves from their English neighbours. This migration became known as the 
"Great Trek". 

Speaking in general regarding the distribution of people on the face of the earth, 
Zangwill felt that it was essential to correct imbalances which arose from accidents of 
history.. "Progresive nations need to meet and work out a plan for a logical and just re- 
distribution of territory in such a manner that every people will have its own place and no- 
one will fear his neighbour." 

Zangwill did not see any sanctity in the voluntary nature of migration. He said that 
there were some things, such as children's education which were generally agreed to be good 
and beneficial. "In a case like this it is foolish to avoid compulsion." Zangwill believed 
absolutely that a time would come when migration would be viewed in a similar light. 
However, before that came about, there would have to be a wholesale clearance of various 
false theories, such as that of migration being a tragedy. "This is one of the most conspicuous 
falsehoods in the world. Migration is a fortunate experience. In ninety-nine cases out of a 
hundred", he claimed, "the transferees have found their new territories to be better, more 
spacious and healthier." (^) 

Zangwill's Article of May 1917 

In an article written a few months before the publication of the Balfour Declaration, 
Zangwill again tried to grapple with the Arab problem in Palestine. He asserted that Lord 
Shaftesbury's magnanimous plea to "Give the country without a people to the people without 
a country" was a misleading mistake. "The country holds 600,000 Arabs", wrote Zangwill, 
"and unfortunately the soil is occupied by the Arabs." He held that even under a 
constitutional government for all the inhabitants of Palestine, "there would be, not a Jewish 
autonomy but an Arab autonomy... In any event the Jews would be swamped and the Jewish 
atmosphere" which was the main object of a Jewish State, would become "less distinctive 
than the Ghetto of New York." 

Zangwill considered that the "only solution of this difficulty lies in the consideration 
that Palestine is not so much occupied by the Arabs as over-run by them... We cannot allow 
the Arabs to block so valuable a piece of historic reconstruction... And therefore we must 
greatly persuade them to 'trek'. After all, they have all Arabia with its million square miles 
- not to mention the vast new area freed from the Turk between Syria and Mesopotamia - and 
Israel has not a square inch." 

Zangwill suggested that the Arabs should be encouraged "to fold their tents" and 
"silently steal away". He felt sure that the Jews would be prepared to pay their travelling 
expenses and purchase any immovable property. 

In conclusion, Zangwill wrote that the Jews of Palestine, if a minority, would either 
have to dominate the majority or be dominated by them and neither of these alternatives 
would be desirable. "Neither would be the dream that has sweetened the centuries of 

/ Vladimir Jabotinsky, "A Conversation with Zangwill", Der Moment, (Warsaw), no. 152,21 July 1939, (news-clipping 
in Jabotinsky Archives 1939/18 tav no.l7); Writings of Jabotinsky vol.17, (Zichronot ben-dori), (Tel-Aviv, [n.d.]), 
pp.256-59; Jewish Herald, (Johannesburg), vol.iii, no.21, 4 August 1939, p.5. 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

sorrow." (i) This article was reprinted in the American Zionist paper "The Menorah Journal" 
of October 1917. {^) The historian Rafael Medoff observes that there was no reaction by the 
American Zionists to this article of Zangwill's and he suggests that the reason may have been 
that "it appeared in the edition of 'Menorah Journal' that was circulating at precisely the 
same moment that euphoria over the Balfour Declaration was sweeping the American Zionist 
movement." (') 

This article did however come up in a conversation between Elisha Friedman and the 
philanthropist Jacob Schiff in October 1917. Friedman (who in the 1940s became actively 
involved in Herbert Hoover's Arab transfer plan) said: "Zangwill thinks England would be 
willing to pay the Arabs for their land and improvements and turn over the million of acres in 
Arabia to these Nomads and leave the small strip on the seacost [sic] for the Jews." C) 

"Before the Peace Conference" 

During the First World War, the United States' President, Woodrow Wilson, worked on 
his ideas for a new Utopian international system which would perpetuate peace and assure 
justice and security to every nation regardless of its material strength. Wilson insisted that 
the results of war should not be expressed through the annexation of territory but be based on 
the principle which promises the right of self-determination for all nations. More 
specifically, in connection with Palestine, point number twelve of Wilson's famous "Fourteen 
Points" necessary to a just and lasting peace, included the proposal that peoples under Turkish 
rule were to be allowed self-determination. Until Palestine had been conquered by the British 
in 1917-8, it had been part of the Ottoman Empire under Turkish rule. 

Zionist organisations throughout the world, therefore, naturally utilised the 
opportunity of the Paris Peace Conference held in January 1919, to push forward Jewish claims 
and title to Palestine. Zangwill, however, was at odds with the Zionist Organisation over its 
interpretation of the Balfour Declaration. He therefore, in December 1918, published an 
article in "The Jewish Chronicle" entitled "Before the Peace Conference". 

On 4 December 1918, Zangwill had written a letter (untraced) to the Editor of "The 
Jewish Chronicle", Leopold Greenberg, (presumably) offering him this article for publication 
in that paper. On the 6th of the month, Greenberg replied saying that he liked the idea of 
sending them this article. The Editor was obviously keen to publish it because he added, "if 
you can let us have it by Monday [9 December] that will suit us best because it will give us 
plenty of time to 'feature' it and perhaps get some announcements of it elsewhere beforehand." 


From Zangwill's letter of 10 December, we see that Greenberg had already received this 
article and had commented favourably on it. Zangwill was sure that his article "will key the 
thing up, so that they [the forthcoming Paris Peace Conference] will not dare offer us too 
little." He was also sure that his "views will excite controversy" adding that he had 
"expressed them very briefly and have all the answers." He observed that his wife thought 
that his "beautiful phrase 'race redistribution' is a really constructive contribution." 

Zangwill did not know whether Greenberg would be writing an Editorial on his article, 
but suggested that "it might be well in anticipation of one class of objector to point out that I 
am no 'visionary' but the President of the only Society in the world except the ICA(?) which 
has emigrated 10,000 Jewish souls from persecution to freedom and prosperity." (^) Zangwill's 
article appeared in "The Jewish Chronicle" of 13 December, and in this edition were two 
Editorials on Zangwill. Although Greenberg did not mention that that Zangwill was no 
"visionary", he did observe that "in the Ito [Jewish Territorial Organisation], too he has 

/ Zangwill, Voice of Jerusalem, op. cit., pp.92-93. 

/ Israel Zangwill, "The Fate of Palestine", The Menorah Journal, (New York), vol.iii, no.4, October 1917, pp. 196-202. 

/ Rafael Medoff, American Zionist leaders and the Palestinian Arabs, 1898-1948, Doctoral thesis, Yeshiva University, 
1991, (Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1994), [hereafter: Medoff, thesis], p. 113. 

/ Memorandum of Conversation between J.H.S. [Jacob Schiff] & E.M.F. [Elisha Friedman], 20 October 1917, p.2, 
(Princeton University, Louis Brandeis Papers, Reel 82). 
^ / Greenberg to Zangwill, 6 December 1918, (CZA A120/364). 
^ / ZangwUl to Greenberg, 10 December 1918, (CZA A120/364). 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

rendered at least one signal service in one particular branch of the Jewish difficulty by the re- 
settlement of some thousands of oppressed Jews in more congenial environment." {^) 

In his article, Zangwill wrote that if it is to exist at all, a Jewish Palestine must be a 
reality and not a sham, adding that so far, interpretations of the Balfour Declaration "seem 
scarcely serious". He felt that the Jewish National Home would be a "British Crown Colony 
with a predominantly Arab population." He complained that while other peoples scarcely 
known to history were to flourish on their own soil, the Jewish people "is to crawl into a corner 
of its own land like a leper colony." One was entitled to assume, Zangwill considered, that 
the Balfour Declaration "was intended to settle the Jewish question in harmony with the 
spirit of this great moment of world reconstruction when everything is in the melting pot." 

He repeated, that in order to convert Palestine into a Jewish National Home, the Arabs 
would have to be resettled in Arabia. "And hence we must suppose that this new system of 
creative politics will not stop short of disentangling Europe, and that those amicable 
measures of race redistribution which we have already seen to be an unavoidable part of a 
final world settlement will be carried out in Palestine as elsewhere. Thus the Arabs would 
gradually be settled in the new and vast Arabian Kingdom, to liberate which from the Turk, 
Jews no less than Arabs have laid down their lives and with which the Jewish 
Commonwealth would cultivate the closest friendship and co-operation. Only thus can 
Palestine become a 'Jewish National Home'." He felt that only if Palestine were to have a 
large Jewish majority, (but not a "Jewish totality"), and the land nationalised via 
expropriation of both Jewish and Arab land "with reasonable compensation", could the Jews 
hope to build up a "model state". 

Zangwill warned that the World War which had just ended had been "a sufficient 
object-lesson in the rankling poisons of race-hatred generated between peoples pent in the 
same territory". Hence the Jews had to possess Palestine in the same way as the Arabs had to 
possess Arabia or the Poles Poland. (^) 

Reactions to Zangwill's Article 

After the publication of Zangwill's article. Sir Lionel Abrahams, a distinguished 
English civil servant and Anglo-Jewish historian, handed in his resignation as a member of 
the Jewish Territorial Organisation. On receiving Sir Lionel's resignation, Zangwill wrote 
him a letter which he also sent a copy of to "The Jewish Chronicle" for publication. In 
addition he sent the paper a memorandum containing his plan as worked out for the Peace 
Conference. C) This memorandum presumably contained the points made in his letter to Sir 

Greenberg replied that he was publishing the letter to Sir Lionel, but pointed out that 
he was in a difficult situation with regard to the Memorandum since "the [British] 
Government would not view with favour the publication of a number of different proposals, 
especially before the proposal comes to them from the Zionist body itself", and also "because 
it is not desirable to put up the back of the idiots who are in authority." Even with regard to 
the publication of Zangwill's letter to Sir Lionel, Greenberg had some hesitation since he 
observed, "Between ourselves, I rather think that I am sailing very near the wind in 
publishing your letter to Sir Lionel Abrahams." Greenberg concluded that he would however 
publish Zangwill's memorandum, as soon as Weizmann let him publish his plan, and at the 
same time point out that his paper had held it over until they had received Weizmann's 
memorandum. (* ) 

In his letter to Sir Lionel, Zangwill wrote: "Dear Sir Lionel, - On the ground that my 
suggestion for the gradual and amicable emigration of the majority of its Arabs from the tiny 
territory of Palestine is 'indefensible and impracticable,' you ask me to remove your name 

/ Editorial, "Mr Zangwill Speaks", The lewish Chronicle, (London), 13 December 1918, p.5. 

/ Israel Zangwill, "Before the Peace Conference", The lewish Chronicle, (London), 13 December 1918, p. 12; 
Zangwill, Speeches, Articles, op. cit., pp.340-42. ( 
3 / ZangwUl to Greenberg, 16 December 1918, (CZA A120/364). 
* / Greenberg to Zangwill, 17 December 1918, (CZA A120/364). 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

from the list of the Council of the Jewish Territorial Organisation." (i) 

In his book "The Voice of Jerusalem" published nearly two years later, which amplified 
many of the points contained in his letter to Sir Lionel, Zangwill explained the importance of 
"gradual and amicable emigration". There he contrasted his planned transfer of the Arabs 
from Palestine, with the "brief notice" of compulsory emigration which the terms of the 
armistice concluding the war, gave all Germans in Turkey. His proposals for transfer would 
involve "a well-organised emigration to a pre-arranged home amid one's kinsmen, with full 
compensation for values left behind." {^) 

At a Zionist demonstration held in the East End of London, a few weeks before the 
publication of Zangwill's "Before the Peace Conference" article, Weizmann had put forward 
his own ideas on Palestine. In brief, his plans were for first gaining world recognition of 
Palestine as a Jewish land, then employing "legitimate means" to bring millions of Jews to 
Palestine within a relatively short time without encroaching on the rights of the Arab 
peasants. Jews would work the land and would lay the spiritual foundations of the country - 
namely the Hebrew language, Jewish days of rest and the Hebrew education system. 
However, Weizmann proposed that there should not be a government until there was a Jewish 
majority in Palestine. Instead, the land should be administered by a Trustee power. (^) 

Zangwill was against Weizmann's plans and in his letter to Sir Lionel Abrahams 
referred to this scheme as "indefensible and impracticable". "Even if it does not propose to sit 
on the Arab's head, it does propose to snow him under, and ethically I can see no difference 
between destroying his position gradually or at a stroke." Zangwill felt that it would be more 
ethical to make an honest, open bargain with the Arabs rather than slowly swamp them. He 
pointed out that "even the 'Morning Post' (no very pro-Semitic organ) merely demanded our 
'buying out the present owners of Palestine'; exactly my policy." Zangwill contended that only 
Jewish critics found his scheme either "indefensible" or "impracticable". (^) 

In his book, Zangwill stated categorically that his "suggestion of amicable race- 
redistribution or a voluntary trek" was the only method of creating a Jewish State in 
Palestine. "If it is as impracticable as is generally alleged, then the whole Zionist project 
was a chimera." (^) 

Referring in his letter to historic precedents in the universal migrations of primitive 
people, Zangwill added that the "Arab semi-nomadic fellah" had created nothing in 
Palestine to attach him to the soil. (^) Hence there was "no Arab people living in intimate 
fusion with the country, utilising its resources and stamping it with a characteristic impress: 
there is at best an Arab encampment." C) He recommended that the Arab carry "his primitive 
plough to his own new and vast Arabian kingdom." These he would be master in his own house 
and in a state of peace rather than perpetual friction with the Jews of Palestine. 

Zangwill enclosed a copy of his plan which he had proposed that Weizmann present at 
the Paris Peace Conference. (*) 

Three days later, Lucien Wolf wrote a letter to Zangwill which was subsequently 
published in "The Jewish Chronicle". [Lucien Wolf was at the time President of the Anglo- 
Jewish Association. This was a British organisation which had originally been formed for 
the protection by diplomatic means of Jewish rights in backward countries. After 1905, Wolf 
had collaborated with Zangwill in his Jewish Territorial Organisation, and he was one of 
the main British figures in the anti-Zionist campaign. One should mention that at that 
period there were a number of prominent Anglo-Jews who were anti-Zionist - not just non- 
Zionists. They felt that Zionism could jeopardise the legal rights won by the Jews of Britain 
over many decades, and that Jewish patriotism was incompatible with their loyalties as 

/ Zangwill, lewish Chronicle, 20 December 1918, op. cit. 

/ ZangwUl, Voice of lerusalem, op. cit., pp. 103-04. 

/ "Dr. Weizmann on Zionist Demands", The Jewish Chronicle, (London), 13 December 1918, p. 18. 

/ ZangwUl, Jewish Chronicle, 20 December 1918, op. cit. 

/ ZangwUl, Voice of Jerusalem, op. cit., p. 103. 

/ ZangwUl, Jewish Chronicle, 20 December 1918, op. cit. 

/ ZangwUl, Voice of Jerusalem, op. cit., p. 104. 

/ ZangwUl, Jewish Chronicle, 20 December 1918, op. cit. 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

British citizens and could lead to anti-Semitism. When the text of what was to be known as 
the Balfour Declaration was being discussed by the British Cabinet, these anti-Zionist Jews 
made antagonistic representations to the British Government and as a result they modified 
the text of the Declaration to one which was much less favourable to Zionist aspirations.] 

Before his article was even published Zangwill realised that Lucien Wolf would raise 
objections to the plan and he thus in his letter to Greenberg wrote that "one of Wolf's 
objections is indeed countered in advance", although he did not specify what this particular 
objection was. {^) 

Wolf began his letter by asserting that he felt just as strongly as did Sir Lionel that 
Zangwill's proposal to transfer the Arabs was " 'indefensible' if not 'impracticable'." Wolf 
went on to show complete lack of knowledge of the history of Palestine during the last two 
millenia. "The Zionists, however dear may be their memories of 2000 years ago, came to the 
land as strangers, while the so-called Arabs - by which is meant the fellahin or peasantry - 
are the indigenous population who were in the country before the first invasion of our people, 
and who have remained there ever since." 

Wolf then expressed concern at what might happen to Jews in other countries, were the 
Arabs to be evicted from Palestine because they did not happen to be Jews. He warned that 
the proposal which Zangwill had made for the amicable emigration of the Arabs from 
Palestine had already been made for the emigration of Jews from Poland. He felt that 
although the few hundred thousand Jews of Palestine might benefit from the transfer of the 
Arabs, seven million Jews in Eastern and South Eastern Europe might have "to submit to a 
similar persecution without any right of appeal to justice and fair play." He added that, 
were the eviction of Arabs to take place, an "indelible stigma" would be attached to Jews 
throughout the world. (^) 

Zangwill told Wolf that he saw no grounds for his criticisms. "In your shrinking from a 
Jewish State you strive to bar the way by ethical considerations unknown to history." He 
asked Wolf, "Where and on what status, pray, are the original inhabitants of Canada, 
Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, even of Wilson's own America?" Zangwill added 
that history had "never recognised the rights of races to monopolise territories they could not 
develop. If, as you say, the Arabs have been in Palestine 2000 years, then it is high time they 
trekked, like the Boers from Cape Colony." 

Although allowing that the Arabs had had a great civilised period, Zangwill said 
that the fellahin were "primitive, illiterate, reckless folk" who had created absolutely 
nothing in Palestine. He trusted that Wolf's solicitude for the Arabs did not extend to the 
exploiting absentee landlords. C) 

A year later, Zangwill wrote about an Arab sheikh who had issued a pro-Zionist 
manifesto regarding Arabs of Palestine whose lands were continually being expropriated, 
without even compensation, by the very Effendis who were behind the opposition to Zionism. 


Zangwill inquired, "What injustice is there in transferring the Arab to a similar piece of 
land in his own kingdom?" As already seen, nearly twenty years earlier, Herzl in his draft 
charter for a "Jewish-Ottoman Land Company" had included a similar proposal. 

To prevent the Arab being overruled, Zangwill suggested Arab emigration from 
Palestine coupled with Jewish immigration to Palestine. Such a process would "redress the 
balance of races and make a 'Jewish National Home' more possible." 

Wolf's point regarding Poland was referred to by Zangwill as "mere impudence" and the 
analogy between the cases of Poland and Palestine dismissed, since the Jewish population of 
Poland was only 16 per cent as compared with the 85 per cent Arab population of Palestine. (^) 
Elsewhere, Zangwill wrote that he had no objection to "an orderly migration of Polish Jews" 

/ Zangwill to Greenberg, 10 December 1918, op. cit. 

/ Lucien Woolf, Letters to the Editor, The Jewish Chronicle, (London), 3 January 1919, p. 19. 

/ Israel Zangwill, Letters to the Editor, The Jewish Chronicle, (London), 3 January 1919, p. 19. 

/ ZangwUl, Voice of Jerusalem, op. cit., p. 104. 

/ Zangwill, Jewish Chronicle, 3 January 1919, op. cit. 

— 60 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

who were being persecuted, to a "less barbarous soil". The difference was that whereas there 
was no Jewish State to receive the Polish Jews, the Arabs of Palestine only had to cross the 
border of Palestine to be in an Arab State. {^) 

In reply to Zangwill's letter. Wolf wrote, "If the so-called Arabs were really Arabs - 
that is, natives of Arabia - and if the Jews were really Palestinians - that is indigenes of 
Palestine - there might be something to be said for your argument on the crazy basis of 
Territorial Nationality, which is the root curse of all our policies. But the Arabs are not 
Arabs. They are only the Moslemised descendants of the indigenous Canaanites, and hence 
they are in their rightful homeland which, however poor and feckless they may be, is their 
own. This is so well established an anthropological fact that you will find it referred to as 
beyond dispute in any good encyclopaedic article on Palestine." However, the eleventh 
edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, published only eight years earlier, shows that the 
Palestinian population of that day was made up of a patchwork of peoples including very 
large contingents from the Mediterranean countries, especially Armenia, Greece and Italy. 

Wolf continued, "The Jews on the other hand, come from the very Mesopotamia to 
which you would now banish the Arabs. They never struck root in the country, although they 
certainly sanctified it by great doings... and they passed out of it because in reality it was too 
small for their great spirit and took the world for their stage." This is not in accordance with 
Jewish tradition and liturgy. Wolf asked Zangwill why he was not asking the Poles to trek 
into Russia and leave the Jews in possession of Poland. Wolf considered that such a proposal 
"would be just as reasonable as your proposition in regard to the Arabs." (^) 

Zangwill replied that he did not demand this since the Poles had struck root in Poland 
and were in effective, historic cultural possession of their country. In addition, whereas an 
"Arab Kingdom is being set up for the Arabs outside Palestine", no Polish kingdom was being 
set up for the Poles in Russia. "It is the Arabs who have 'never struck root' in Palestine, not 
the Jews", said Zangwill, "for the Jews were uprooted while the Arabs are still, after all 
these centuries, merely standing on the surface." 

At this period, the Emir Feisal had made a speech in which he stated that "Dr. 
Weizmann's ideals are ours" and that he looked forward to Jewish co-operation with his 
State. On 3 January 1919, he signed the historic agreement with Weizmann. In connection with 
the Emir Feisal, Zangwill wrote that if he "is as friendly as he sounds, then surely - united as 
Jews and Arabs are in their common objection to French suzerainty - there would be no 
difficulty in arranging with him on a quid pro quo basis that the Arabs of Palestine should be 
gradually drawn from these 10,000 square miles into the 400,000 square miles of the Arabic 
sphere, the two States then co-operating, freed from the danger of friction." (') As is well- 
known, only a few months later, Feisal retreated from his pro-Zionist stand. 

The final letter in this series, came from Rabbi Dr. Samuel Daiches, a Rabbinic and 
oriental scholar who was born in Vilna and had become a lecturer at Jews' College in 1908. 
Daiches was was critical of Zangwill's articles and letters, Lucien Wolf's letters and Claude 
Montefiore's article on the "Dangers of Zionism" (which had appeared at the same period in 
"The Jewish Chronicle"). "They have all this in common", wrote Daiches, "they mis- 
understand the Jewish spirit and the essence of Zionism." 

With regard to Wolf, Daiches wrote, "Mr. Wolf's anxiety for the 'descendants of the 
indigenous Canaanites' and his hints to the Poles and other anti-Semites would be farcical if 
they were not tragical... I may, by the way tell Mr. Wolf that the Jews did not come from 
Mesopotamia. The family of our patriarch Abraham migrated from Canaan to Babylonia, 
and Abraham re-migrated from Babylonia to Canaan, went back to his 'rightful homeland'. 
We are, therefore, at least in as good a position as the 'descendants of the indigenous 
Canaanites'. The superconscience of Mr. Wolf may be quite at rest on this score. 'Cooked' 
history gives a bad taste, Mr. Wolf." 

Daiches opposed Zangwill's proposal to transfer the Arabs from Palestine, describing it 

/ Zangwill, Voice of Jerusalem, op. cit., p. 103. 

/ Wolf, Jewish Chronicle, 3 January 1919, op. cit., p.20. 

/ Israel ZangwUl, Letters to the Editor, The Jewish Chronicle, (London), 10 January 1919, p. 14. 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

as "un-Jewish and unpolitical". He said, "We will not evict Arabs or any other people living 
in Palestine... We want Palestine to be again the Jewish National Home. The Arabs have no 
objection to this idea being realised." (i) The years which immediately followed showed 
Daiches to be completely mistaken. The Arabs' true intentions were revealed, not just in words 
but in pogroms and massacres. 

Editorial Comments in "The Jewish Chronicle" 

During the period of Zangwill's original article and the subsequent correspondence, "The 
Jewish Chronicle" published several Editorials on the subject. 

The first one, under the heading "The Arab Problem" appeared in the same edition as 
Zangwill's article. It began by stating that Zangwill had always emphasised the 
demographic problem confronting Jewish settlement in Palestine and continued, "In the article 
we print, Mr. Zangwill grasps the nettle with characteristic courage." After summarising 
Zangwill's suggestion for transfer of the Arabs from Palestine to the new and vast Arabian 
kingdom, the Editorial writer concluded that this suggestion was "wholly impracticable." It 
was one thing to transport ten or twenty thousand willing emigrants, but another to transport 
hundreds of thousands "possibly against their own wishes." The Editorial writer then put 
forward his own views on solving the Arab problem in Palestine, namely by absorption of the 
Arabs as equal citizens. He concluded, "Meanwhile we may welcome Mr. Zangwill's 
constructive attempt to deal with the whole question, and the fine sense of Jewish 
nationalism which he manifests. We would only add that Mr. Zangwill's experiences and 
enthusiasms - to say nothing of his commanding position in Jewry - eminently fit him, in our 
opinion and in the opinion, we are convinced of his co-religionists all the world over, to take a 
prominent part in the deliberations of the Palestine section at the coming Peace Conference. 
We hope that his presence and service may be secured." (^) It is significant to note that 
although the Editorial writer of "The Jewish Chronicle" did not agree with Zangwill's 
proposals for the transfer of the Arabs from Palestine, he afforded both Zangwill and his 
proposal the greatest respect and proposed that he take a prominent part in the forthcoming 
Paris Peace Conference. 

Another Editorial written a fortnight later, came out against both Zangwill's proposals 
and the official Zionist proposals for solving the Arab problem. The Editorial writer hoped 
that in the new scheme for effectuating the Balfour Declaration, which was at the time in 
the course of preparation, "the vital Arab question will be dealt with on something like 
rational and reasonable lines. Expropriation, as Mr. Zangwill proposes, we do not think comes 
under either of these categories, any more than does the policy of peaceful penetration of Jews 
on the one hand, and gradual elimination of the Arabs on the other, which is said to be the 
official Zionist plan." (^) 

In a third Editorial which appeared after the exchange of letters between Lucien Wolf 
and Zangwill, the idea of population transfer was viewed more favourably. The Editorial 
writer conceded that Zangwill's retort to Wolf contained "several points which deserve to be 
borne in mind in the discussion of this very difficult and vital question... It may be that in the 
end no material injury would be done to the Arab population" by applying Wilson's principles 
of reshaping lands on the principle of Nationality. "As an ideal, indeed, the proposition, if 
voluntarily embraced by Arabs and Jews alike, would prove to be a solution of the trouble." (^) 

The Editorial writer however, felt that the plan sketched by "A Jewish Nationalist", a 
month and-a-half earlier in "The Jewish Chronicle" was the most practicable plan for 
dealing with the Arab problem. In this plan, the anonymous author said that the Arabs could 
not be "expropriated" but must be given the "fullest consideration" and "utmost protection". 
For his solution of the Arab question, he suggested turning the "Arabs into Israelites 
politically." Those Arabs who wished "to become citizens of 'Israel' could do so" and those 

/ Samuel Daiches, Letters to the Editor, The Jewish Chronicle, (London), 10 January 1919, p. 15. 

/ Editorial, "The Arab Problem", The Jewish Chronicle, London, 13 December 1918, p.5. 

/ Editorial, "Zionist Matters", The Jewish Chronicle, (London), 27 December 1918, p.5. 

/ Editorial, "Mr. Zangwill and the Arab Problem", The Jewish Chronicle, (London), 3 January 1919, p. 7. 

— 62 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

who did not wish could remain Arabs. He said, "We have to rely upon political means for 
maintaining within its borders a nationality that is Jewish; and it stands to reason that these 
political means will prove in the end just as effectual in gradually eliminating from the land 
of Israel those who do not desire to identify themselves with that nationality, as they will 
be the means of attracting to its borders those who do." {^) The Editorial writer considered 
that this plan was natural and comparatively easy whilst Zangwill's was arbitrary and 
bristles with difficulties, dangers and injustice. (^) 

As we shall see later, when in the 1940s, the British Labour Party put forward its 
proposal for encouraging the Arabs to leave Palestine, the Jewish Chronicle Editorial writer 
came out in two Editorials very much in favour of the proposal, describing it as "sane realism" 
and very critical of those Zionists who opposed the plan. 

Lecture in Aid of War-Wounded 

The First World War ended in November 1918, leaving an enormous toll of dead and 
wounded including many Jewish victims. At the end of December, a concert was held in London 
in aid of the West London Branch of the Jewish Victims of War which was addressed by 

Zangwill realised that he would require every forum possible to propagate his views 
and thus in a postscript to his private letter of 10 December to the Editor of "The Jewish 
Chronicle", he pointed out that he had just received an invitation to preside at a concert in 
aid of the Jewish victims of the war, and said that "this would supply a forum for saying 
whatever may be necessary at that critical date." (^) 

During the course of this lecture, he explained that his Jewish Territorial Organisation 
had been reluctant to adopt Palestine as a National Home because "the overwhelmingly Arab 
population made a Jewish autonomous basis apparently impossible." He felt that with the 
promulgation of the Balfour Declaration, the Jews were entitled to believe "that a radical 
solution of this difficulty had been found." As could be seen from Canada and the Transvaal 
leaving "races pent up in one territory" led to trouble and friction. The World War had been 
fought to break up the dangerous sources of friction in Austria and Hungary. "Where then", 
said Zangwill, "was the logic of creating in Palestine a minor Austria artificially? The races 
should separate as Abraham did from Lot." (^) 

Zangwill praised Sir Mark Sykes, who a year and-a-half earlier had proposed the 
setting up of a Joint Committee for the protection of the natural rights of Arabs, Armenians 
and Jews, the three races who had been oppressed by the Turks. These ideas of Sykes formed 
part of the background to the famous declaration made by Lord Robert Cecil, the Assistant 
British Foreign Secretary. This was made at a meeting, at which Zangwill was present, held 
at the London Opera House in December 1917, in order to express gratitude to the British 
Government for issuing the Balfour Declaration. Cecil declared, "Our wish is that Arabian 
countries shall be for the Arabs, Armenia for the Armenians and Judea for the Jews." (') In his 
lecture in aid of the war-wounded, Zangwill epigrammatised Cecil's statement saying that 
"The Arabs were to have a State in Arabia, the Armenians a State in Armenia and the Jews A 
STATE - OF FRICTION." Laughter followed!(^) 

This expression "a state of friction" for the Jews was amplified by Zangwill in a 
footnote to a book by Redcliffe Salaman. Zangwill stated that he "hoped that by an amicable 
agreement they (the Arabs) would prefer to trek to their new Arabian State just as the Boers 
trekked for Cape Colony. In that case the two States could arise side by side and hand in 
hand. Otherwise he did not see that a Jewish State could arise at all, but only a state of 

/ "A Jewish Nationalist", The Jewish Chronicle, (London), 15 November 1918, p. 12. 

/ Editorial, Jewish Chronicle, 3 January 1919, op. cit. 

/ ZangwUl to Greenberg, 10 December 1918, op. cit. 

/ "Mr. 1. ZangwUl and the Palestine Scheme", The Jewish Chronicle, (London), 3 January 1919, p. 15. 

/ Great Britain, Palestine and the Jews, (New York, 1918), p.39. 

/ "Zangwill and Palestine Scheme", Jewish Chronicle, 3 January 1919, op. cit. 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

friction." (i) 

Redcliffe N. Salaman M.D. was a Jewish Officier stationed in Palestine who wrote a 
whole series of letters which were subsequently published. In a letter written from Surafend 
in February 1919, he mentioned a number of complaints brought by Arabs for which on 
investigation not a shred of supporting evidence could be found. Salaman considered that 
these accusations were propaganda to influence Arabs against Jews. "Unfortunately the fault 
is not all on their side", continued Salaman, "I fear I.Z's letter (I have not had a chance of 
seeing the original) has done untold harm." He did not identify the letter, but possibly, he is 
referring to one of Zangwill's letters to "The Jewish Chronicle" which had been published a 
month or so earlier. "It is radically wrong to suggest a complete removal of the Arabs, simply 
because it is both impractical and un-English." (^) 

A footnote appended to this letter states that Zangwill had explained to Salaman that 
"the reports were but a crude summary of his thought." Zangwill, who seems in his 
explanations to take .a defensive posture, hoped that the Arabs of Palestine, whose kinsmen 
after years of oppression were having a new state set up for them in Arabia, "would of 
themselves sympathise with the ideal of the still more unfortunate nation of Israel, and 
would see the practical impossibility of the Zionist ideal being carried out on a very small 
piece of territory such as Palestine is, if 600,000 of their own people remain on the soil." 

Zangwill promised that the Arabs would be fully compensated by the Zionist 
Organisation and if necessary would obtain equivalent plots of land in the new Arab State. He 
warned that the Arabs would be making a grave mistake should they persist in regarding the 
little territory of Palestine as their own. (^) 

No written account by Zangwill of this footnote has been traced, although in a letter 
written by him to Salaman dated 3 December 1919, Zangwill thanked him for returning his 
articles and letters, and commenting, "But surely they explain quite well my point of view, 
and show that that it was misinterpreted in the first rumours." Possibly it was from this 
material that Salaman got the information for his footnote. 

In this letter, Zangwill also informed him where he thought he had first put forward 
his idea for transfer of Arabs, and the attitude of the non-Jews towards this idea: "I cannot 
remember when I first launched the idea of an amicable Arab expropriation; but it was 
probably at the National Liberal Club, where the idea was received sympathetically by a 
large audience, mainly Gentile. Gentiles, indeed, cannot understand how a National Home 
can be got otherwise." (*) 

In a further letter to Salaman written in March 1920, (following one of Zangwill's 
speeches), Zangwill wrote: "Your criticism that I offer no constructive policy is utterly untrue. 
I offer a policy, heroic indeed, but quite feasible. You are a tyro in the movement to which I 
have devoted half a lifetime, and you really do not understand the great issues involved." 

In answer to a further criticism of Salaman's that Zangwill "disturbed the Arabs", the 
latter replied, "it is very odd that a writer in yesterday's 'Daily News' (who is writing a 
series of articles on the Zionist problem), never mentioned me among the numerous factors of 
unrest." (^) 

"Zionism and the League of Nations" 

The "League of Nations Journal" extended an invitation to Zangwill to contribute an 
article, and in February 1919, he took advantage of this invitation to express his forebodings. 

The Journal published Zangwill's article in their "Open Forum" section, a section which 
had been "instituted with a view to stimulating discussion and arousing interest in all aspects 
of, and subjects connected with, the problem of a League of Nations". Folowing this article. 

' / Redcliffe N. Salaman, Palestine Reclaimed, (London, 1920), p. 176. 

2 / Ibid., pp.174-75. 

3 / Ibid., pp. 175-76. 

^ I ZangwUl to Salaman, 3 December 1919, (CZA A120/199). 
^ / ZangwUl to Salaman, 5 March 1920, (CZA A120/199). 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

the Editor commented, "The above article represents a definitely Zionist point of view." (^ 
However, there was no question of the Editor of this journal attempting to suppress an article 
advocating transfer. 

Zangwill pointed out in his article, that the claim of the Jews to Palestine did not rest 
"merely on history", but also on the fact that whilst they were the only people in the world 
without a national home, Palestine was at that time a derelict country. He then continued 
with his oft-repeated statement that the presence of 600,000 Arabs was the "gravest obstacle 
to the rise of the Jewish State." These Arabs had "created nothing there except trouble for the 
Jewish Colonies, and should be gradually and amicably transplanted to the Arab Kingdom, 
which is to be re-established next door, and with which the Jewish State would cordially co- 
operate." Zangwill considered that race redistribution was "in the interests of general world- 
happiness" and that it was one of the functions of the League of Nations. (^) 

In a letter to "The Jewish Chronicle", Zangwill described this article as "a very short 
but strong article" on "Zionism and the League of Nations". He felt sure that "The Jewish 
Chronicle" could get permission to copy the article, and he offered them an advance copy. (^) 
This article was in fact published in both "The Jewish Chronicle" (^) and "The Jewish 
World". (5) 

Zangwill's Address to Poale Zion 

By 1920, a year after the Paris Peace Conference, a League of Nations had been 
established and Zangwill had hoped that under their auspices a "friendly arrangement 
would be fixed up between the Jews and the Arabs, who would gradually retire to their own 
State." Instead of which, for making "this reasonable suggestion of an exodus by consent", 
Zangwill had been "denounced" by both Weizmann and Feisal as an "ejector of the Arab". 

In his lecture to Poale Zion (Labour Zionists), at the end of February 1920, Zangwill 
said, "With the passing of the dream of universal justice associated with the League of 
Nations, the hopes of such a settlement have faded." In his stinging criticism of Weizmann, 
Zangwill stated that unless he could solve the Arab problem, Zionism would be a fiasco. "For 
if you shirk Exodus you are confronted by Numbers." Weizmann had proposed the use of force 
to keep the door open for Jewish immigration to Palestine, and with this Zangwill agreed, but 
he complained that Weizmann "will not see that his political ideal demands force - though 
with full compensation - in the Arabs' going out." Zangwill held that in the first instance, 
reason and goodwill should be used to solve the Arab problem, but failing that "then one 
single act of compulsion is better for both sides than perpetual friction." He claimed that were 
he an Arab politician, he would gradually withdraw his "semi-nomadic population" to Arab 
territory and seek an alliance of the Arab and Jewish forces "each in its own State." (^) 

An Editorial in the same edition of "The Jewish Chronicle" began, "Without seeing eye 
to eye with Mr. Zangwill on all the points in his brilliant speech... we would express our 
general concurrence in his views." It is not clear which of Zangwill's "points" displeased the 
Editorial writer. However, nowhere in this Editorial was the transfer proposal criticised. 
Rather, the Editorial writer praised Zangwill's "stern call for a courageous facing of the facts 
at a time of extraordinary crisis in Jewish history, and a demand that Jews, and especially 
Zionists should rise to the height of an unexampled opportunity." C) 

The following week a letter was published in "The Jewish Chronicle" by the British 
born author and Zionist historian, Leonard Stein, who pointed out that the Arab leaders did 

/ Israel Zangwill, "Zionism and the League of Nations", The League of Nations Journal, (London), vol.1, no.2, 
February 1919, pp.46-47. 

/ ZangwUl, Voice of Jerusalem, op. cit., p. 100. 
3 / ZangwUl to Greenberg, 25 January 1919, (CZA A120/364). 

/ Israel ZangwUl, "Jewish National Movement, Zionism and the League of Nations", The Jewish Chronicle, 
(London), 14 February 1919, p.l4. 

/ Israel Zangwill, "Zionism and the League of Nations", The Jewish World, (London), 12 February 1919, p. 11. 

/ "Zangwill on Weizmann", The Jewish Chronicle, (London), 27 February 1920, pp. 18-19. 

/ Editorial, "Zangwill on Weizmann", The Jewish Chronicle,(London), 27 February 1920, p. 7. 

— 65 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

not have "the smallest intention of advising an Arab emigration." (i) 

Another Editorial countered, that should the Arabs remain in Palestine, the policy of 
Jewish immigration might find itself confronted by serious difficulties. The Editorial writer 
questioned whether the policy of laissez faire would solve the problem and felt that an 
"intelligible and workable course" needed to be propounded on the Arab question. (2) 

On the other hand, an Editorial in the anti-Jewish British daily newspaper, the 
"Morning Post", strongly attacked Zangwill's proposed solution of the Arab problem, 
describing it as "Nationalism, Militarism, Imperialism, in the most aggressive sense of these 
much abused words. The Arabs are to be driven out of the country in which they have lived for 
hundreds and thousands of years, and by force if necessary." In view of the fact that the Jews 
constituted only a small percentage of the population, the writer felt that instead of the 
proposal to drive out the Arabs, Zangwill should have proposed living in "peace and 
international solidarity with these Arabs." (') 

In answer to this paper's criticism, Zangwill reminded them that in the past they had 
pronounced as reasonable the method of expropriation with compensation. He felt that after 
the "gigantic blood-letting for more or less futile ends" which had taken place during the 
First World War, he could not jib at the use of a "little force for real ends" such as the solution 
of the Jewish problem. (^) 

Greenberg in a letter to Zangwill commented on this "Morning Post" leader. He wrote, 
"The 'Morning Post' leader is such a wretched production, so unfair, so unchivalrous that I am 
convinced it was never written in the 'Morning Post' office." (') Greenberg also felt that "The 
Jewish Chronicle" should publicly react to this leader, that in a further letter dated 10 
March, he wrote "so far as the 'Morning Post' is concerned, I will see what space we can afford 
after what we are bound to put in of our reply to their infamous article." (^) In their answer 
(actually to another article in the "Morning Post" attacking this speech of Zangwill's), "The 
Jewish Chronicle" spoke of taking "words from their context, contort them, and dish them up 
so as to suit his own malevolent purposes." (') 

A further attack on Zangwill's views was made in the Manchester "Sunday Chronicle" 
by E. B. Osborn who once wrote for the "Morning Post", and Zangwill commented that he "may 
be the man behind the whole thing" (i.e. presumably the author of the leader in the "Morning 
Post"). Zangwill answered this attack with, in his own words, "a good little letter". (*) 

Another attack made at the beginning of 1920 on Zangwill's views on Arab transfer was 
made by Leon Simon, a leading British Zionist, who strongly opposed transfer. In the course of 
an article in "The Maccabaean" entitled "Jews and Arabs", Simon put forward three 
theoretical solutions for the Arabs of Palestine, the first being "to remove the Arabs from the 
country, by force if they would not go of their own free will." 

In discussing this solution, Simon wrote that there is "a certain attractiveness" about 
this suggestion. However there was no reason to suppose that it would be acceptable to the 
Arabs. He then continued: "The use of compulsion has, if I recollect aright, been suggested by 
Mr. Zangwill (I am not clear whether he would apply it to the Arabs of the Palestinian towns 
as well as to the felaheen of the countryside), but this is a solution which is condemned by 
every consideration either of justice or of expediency. The injustice of compulsory wholesale 
deportation needs no laboring." (') 

Zangwill's Address to the American Jewish Congress 

In October 1923, Zangwill, at the invitation of the American Jewish Congress, delivered 

/ Leonard Stein, Letters to the Editor, The Jewish Chronicle, (London), 5 March 1920, p.29. 
/ Editorial, "The Future of Palestine", The Jewish Chronicle, (London), 5 March 1920, p. 8. 
/ Editorial, "Zangwill in Two Parts", Morning Post, (London), 2 March 1920, p.6. 
/ Israel Zangwill, Letters to the Editor, Morning Post, (London), 8 March 1920, p.4. 
/ Greenberg to ZangwUl, 8 March 1920, (CZA A120/364). 
/ Greenberg to ZangwUl, 10 March 1920, (CZA A120/364). 
/ "Mr. Zangwill", The Jewish Chronicle, (London), 12 March 1920, p.22 
/ Zangwill to Greenberg, 11 March 1920, (CZA A120/364). 
/ Leon Simon, "Jews and Arabs", The Maccabaean, (New York), vol.xxxiii, no.l, January 1920, p. 15. 

— 66 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

a lecture at the Carnegie Hall in New York. In addition to an audience of nearly 4000 people, 
the lecture was broadcast by radio throughout the United States and to England. 

In this lecture, which the "New York Times" headlined "Zangwill Calls Political 
Zionism a Vanished Hope", Zangwill declared that the Jews must forego their political 
hopes in Palestine or start a conflagration. In the course of this lecture he commented that he 
would "always remain persuaded that a Jewish State was possible at the moment when the 
Arab was a defeated enemy, liberated from the Turk and glad enough to take on any political 
impress; that by a policy of racial redistribution such as is now in operation between the 
Greeks and the Turks under the Treaty of Lausanne, combined with full compensation for 
expropriated land - a policy of mine with which even our Morning Post was originally 
satisfied - the difficulty of making a home out of a territory in which we are only one out of 
nine inhabitants and in which our total holding of the soil is still below 4 per cent, could have 
been largely removed." (i) 

An editorial in the New York Jewish weekly "The New Palestine" pointed out that this 
address made headlines on the following day all over the United States and there were a 
"volley of protests and denunciations." (^) One should note that these denunciations were 
against the general theme of his address and not specifically against his comments about the 
Arabs. The "New York Evening Post" did refer to Zangwill's comments on transfer and said: 
"Quite aside from the question whether the thing could have been done that Mr. Zangwill 
believed ought to have been done, it is a question whether the thing ought to have been 
attempted." (^) 

On the afternoon following Zangwill's address. Dr. Stephen Wise, who had acted as 
Chairman on the previous evening, assembled all the delegates and issued a statement. He 
began by saying that "Mr Zangwill spoke for himself and not for the American Jewish 
Congress. He spoke to Israel and not for Israel." However, later on in his statement he said 
that "the gravest possible misconstruction has been placed upon the general tendency of Mr. 
Zangwill's address, for Zangwill criticizes not as an anti Zionist but as a Zionist of Zionists.... 
As far as Zangwill has any quarrel, it is not with the fundamental ideals and principles of 
Zionism, but with policies of the present Zionist leadership." (*) 

An endorsement of Zangwill's views was made by the secretary of the American Jewish 
Congress, Bernard Richards, who in a letter to "The New Palestine" which was published the 
following week, wrote: "To pretend that many of us have not for years been thinking what Mr. 
Zangwill is saying, is only a form of hypocrisy which does not add to the dignity of Jewish 
life." C) 

In complete contrast to Richard's assessment, a vice president of the American Jewish 
Congress, Samuel Untermyer, handed in his resignation "as a protest against its [the 
American Jewish Congess's] action in permitting the use of its platform for the destructive and 
ill balanced diatribe delivered by Mr. Zangwill against the Palestine movement under the 
auspices of the Congress." (^) In his long letter of resignation, Untermyer referred to 
Zangwill's comments on the Arabs: "Such a lurid and brazen proposal for expatriating and 
expropriating the Arabs could only have been born in the mind of one who is accustomed to 
deal with the fancies and phantasms of the world of fiction. It would, I take it, be futile to 
inquire how Mr. Zangwill the pacifist is able to make peace with the savage idea that the 
Jews should have taken advantage of the chaos and turmoil of the war to evict the Arabs out 
of Palestine. Such an idea is abhorrent to anyone who is imbued with the just, humanitarian 
and constructive spirit of our movement." (') 

An attempt to "tone down" Zangwill's views on Arab transfer was made in an address 

/ Zangwill Calls Political Zionism a Vanished Hope", The New York Times, 15 October 1923, p.l. 

/ Editorial, "The Disappointed Mr. Zangwill", The New Palestine, (New York), vol.v, no.l5, 19 October 1923, p.283. 


/ The Press on ZangwUl, The New Palestine, (New York), vol.v, no.l5, 19 October 1923, p.294. 
* / Meyer Weisgal, "Zangwill and Congress", The New Palestine, (New York), vol.v, no.l5, 19 October 1923, p.29C 

/ Letters to the Editor, Bernard Richards, The New Palestine, (New York), vol.v, no. 16, 26 October 1923, p. 320. 

/ "Untermyer vs. Zangwill", The New Palestine, (New York), vol.v, no.l7, 2 November 1923, p.326. 
^ / Ibid., p.327. 

— 67 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

delivered by Stephen Wise on 4 November 1923 - three weeks after Zangwill's address. Wise 
stated that Zangwill "never dreamt of expropriating or expelhng the Arabs. Zangwill would 
rather cut off his right arm than urge his people, whom he respects, to do anything unworthy, 
unjust, ignoble." Wise said that five or six years earlier, when a great Arab kingdom had been 
mooed, Zangwill had claimed that it would not be "impossible to purchase land from the 
Arabs who would trek across the Jordan to the Hedjas." {^) However, from a study of 
Zangwill's pronouncements on Arab transfer, particularly his lecture to Poale Zion in 1920, one 
cannot find much support for Wise's assessment. 

With the advantage of hindsight, Abraham Goldberg, who was a member of the 
Zionist Organization of America's administrative committee, came to the defence of 
Zangwill, in an article written in 1930. Goldberg wrote: "Israel Zangwill did, at one time, 
suggest a similar solution [i.e. transfer] to the Arab question in Palestine; but he was 'laughed 
out of court' and accused of being Utopian, of suggesting things that are solely impractical. We 
all know better now." 

He went on to describe the success of the Greco-Turkish transfer and pointed out that 
such a solution for Palestine would be much easier "since it involved only a small 
displacement of a few hundred thousand fellaheen." The method to be used should not be force 
but a real incentive such as granting twice as much land outside of Palestine. (^) 

During the following year, Goldberg made a more specific proposal for Arab transfer. He 
was talking about the boundary between Palestine and Transjordan which he called 
"fictitious" and asked "Why, then, cannot many of the Arabs migrate to Transjordania and 
settle there, where they would be strictly under Arab auspices and an Arab Government?" He 
hoped that the Zionist representatives at at the forthcoming London Conference would point 
out the injustice which had been "done to the Jewish National Home in severing Palestine 
into two parts of which one is still reserved exclusively for Arabs, and in not encouraging the 
Arabs of Palestine to migrate to Transjordania, so that additional territory might be 
available for Jewish colonization and for the development of the Jewish Homeland without 
hindrance." (') 

At the same period, Felix Frankfurter, a Supreme Court Justice of the United States, in 
an article published in the journal "Foreign Affairs" wrote: "Certainly, hill Arabs [from 
Palestine] can as readily be settled there [Transjordan] as on the plains." (*) 

Zangwill the "Most Consistent Advocate" 

In the period following the Balfour Declaration and the establishment of the British 
Mandate over Palestine, the trend among both Jews and non-Jews was against the transfer of 
Arabs from Palestine. Perhaps the following remark made by Winston Churchill towards the 
end of 1919 was a reference to Zangwill. "There are the Jews, whom we are pledged to 
introduce into Palestine, and who take it for granted that the local population will be cleared 
out to suit their convenience." (^) 

In a similar vein, in an article by Weizmann which appeared in the Palestine daily 
newspaper "Ha'aretz", he wrote, "When the Arabs read the speeches of our D'Annunzio - Mr. 
Zangwill - they may well believe that the Jews will come suddenly in their millions to 
conquer the land and turn out the Arabs. But responsible Zionists have never said or desired 
such a thing." (^) 

Furthermore, from a letter written by Zangwill, we can see that the Zionists considered 
Zangwill's proposals to be dangerous at that time. In this letter, written after a meeting with 

/ Stephen Wise, "Weizmann and Zangwill", The New Palestine, (New York), vol.v, no.l8, 9 November 1923, p.342. 

/ Abraham Goldberg, "Arab Claims to Palestine", The New Palestine, (New York), vol.xviii, no.5, 7 February 1930, 

/ Abraham Goldberg, "The London Conference", The New Palestine, (New York), vol.xx, no.7, 17 April 1931, p. 100. 
/ Felix Frankfurter, "The Palestine Situation Restated", Foreign Affairs, (New York), April 1931, p.429; Felix 
Frankfurter, "The Balfour Declaration and After: 1917-31", The Jewish National Home, ed. Paul Goodman, (London, 
1943), p.74. 
^ / Gilbert, Winston Churchill, op. cit., p. 484. 

/ Quoted by Leftwich, Israel Zangwill, op. cit., p.205. 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Aaron Aaronsohn, (one of the founders of the secret Nih organisation, which supplied the 
British Command with information for their campaign to conquer Palestine from the Turks), 
Zangwill wrote, "He said my article in Pearson's Magazine, pointing out the Arab population 
difficulty in Palestine was read by the Arabs (when he was in Egypt) and produced great 
agitation among them. The Zionists have now begged me not to raise the question and I have 
consented for the moment." (1) According to Leftwich(2) this letter was written at the time of 
the Paris Peace Conference (at the beginning of 1919), but this is certainly incorrect. In his 
diary, Aaronsohn(') reports this meeting as taking place with Zangwill on 16 November 1917, 
and Nedava(^) gives the date of this letter as 18 November 1917. 

However, just over a year or so later, Aaronsohn himself was suggesting a transfer 
proposal for the Arabs. According to William Bullitt, a member of the American delegation to 
the Paris Peace Conference, Aaronsohn proposed that since Palestine was to be turned into a 
Jewish State, the irrigation system in Iraq should be restored and the Arabs of Palestine 
offered land in Iraq more fertile than their holdings in Palestine, in the hope of persuading 
large numbers of Arabs to emigrate to Iraq. (') 

Although within a year, Aaronsohn changed his views on transferring the Arabs, many 
of the others, who at that time had strongly opposed transference, took around fifteen years 
to change their views and to become enthusiastic supporters of transfer. Zangwill had been 
against the general trend, or more correctly a decade-and-a-half ahead of it. Throughout the 
period of his support for official Zionism, Zangwill continually brought forward the same 
solution for the Arab problem. It was Walter Laqueur, the Zionist historian, who described 
Zangwill as the "most consistent advocate" of population transfer. (^) 

Despite all this, Zangwill could not be accused of being anti-Arab, for at the same time 
that he was proposing the removal of the Arabs from Palestine, forcibly if necessary, he 
wrote, "If the Arab remains on the land his welfare must be as dear to us as our own." (') 

We have also seen that Zangwill was afforded respect, even by those who differed 
with him with regard to transfer. No attempt was ever made to muzzle him. On the contrary, 
he was continually invited to lecture on the Palestine question to a wide variety of groups and 
organisations and to write articles on the subject, including an invitation to the "League of 
Nations Journal." At that period, differing opinions and solutions were regarded with respect. 


Vladimir Jabotinsky, founder of Revisionist Zionism, was born in Odessa in 1880. During 
the First World War he founded the Jewish Legion and after the war organised the Haganah 
in Jerusalem. In 1924, he formulated his policy which included the statement that the aim of 
Zionism was the establishment of a Jewish State on both sides of the Jordan. A year later saw 
the formation of the United Zionists Revisionists. Relations with the official Zionist 
movement became increasingly strained and Jabotinsky pressed for secession of the 
Revisionists from the Zionist Organisation. In 1935, the New Zionist Organisation was 
founded with Jabotinsky as its President. 

Jabotinsky 's main connection with population transfer was during the period of the Peel 
Commission in 1937. His interest in .transfer continued until his death in 1940. During this 
period his opinions veered from strong opposition to the idea of transfer to a cautious 
endorsement of the principle. 

For three months, the Peel Commission heard evidence from over a hundred witnesses in 
Palestine and in London. In February 1937, Jabotinsky gave evidence at one of their public 

1 / Ibid., pp.202-03. 

2 / Ibid., p.202. 

^ / Diary of Aaron Aaronsohn 1916 - 1919, ed. Yoham Ephrati, (Tel-Aviv, 1970), p.354. 

/ Joseph Nedava, "Population Exchange Plans to Solve the Palestine Problem", Gesher, (Jerusalem), 1-2 (92-93), 1978, 
^ / Ibid., p.l55. 

/ Laqueur, History of Zionism, op. cit., p.231. 

/ "Zangwill on Weizmann", Jewish Chronicle, 27 February 1920, op. cit., p.28. 

— 69 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

sessions, in which he rejected the idea of the removal of the Arabs from Palestine. "I have 
also shown to you already that, in our submission, there is no question of ousting the Arabs. On 
the contrary, the idea is that Palestine on both sides of the Jordan should hold the Arabs, 
their progeny, and many millions of Jews. What I do not deny is that in the process the Arabs 
of Palestine will necessarily become a minority in the country of Palestine." {^) Earlier in his 
evidence, Jabotinsky had explained to the Commission that he envisaged "Palestine" to be 
the "area on both sides of the Jordan, the area mentioned in the original Palestine Mandate." 

A week after publication of the Peel Report, Jabotinsky delivered an address to members 
of the British Parliament, strongly opposing the partition of Palestine and describing the 
area of the proposed Jewish State as the Jewish "Pale". He saw no reason why the Arabs 
should choose to migrate out of the Jewish "Pale" and regretted that the Peel Report should 
have mentioned "in a very suggestive paragraph the 'instructive precedent' of that 
compulsory 'exchange of population' between Greece and Turkey." Jabotinsky said, "They may 
call me an extremist, but at least I never dreamed of asking the Arabs who live in a Jewish 
country to emigrate. It would be a most dangerous precedent, extremely harmful to the Jewish 
interests in the Diaspora... So this 'trekking' business is just empty talk." He concluded that in 
the Peel Report's proposed area for the Jewish State there would be no room for "even 
remotely adequate" Jewish immigration and that partition of the country "if final, would 
mean the doom of death." (^) 

Two months later, Jabotinsky wrote an article in which he again came out strongly 
against the Peel Commission's transfer proposal. "The babbling about 'transferring' the Arabs 
of the proposed Jewish State is even worse than irresponsible. From the Jewish point of view 
it is a crime." Jabotinsky complained that the Commission knowing nothing about population 
transfers nor of the Jewish position, yet proposed that "when a certain territory will become 
Jewish, the non-Jewish population must be 'transferred'." He disclaimed all Jewish 
responsibility for "their babble" and was surprised that the members of the Commission "are 
not ashamed to publish such nonsensical ideas in an official document." He then queried how 
the Arabs were to be persuaded to transfer and where it was proposed to settle them, "or will 
they simply be forced to go thus creating a real precedent of historical magnitude for anti- 

Jabotinsky concluded by distinguishing between voluntary and compulsory transfer. 
"Emigrations are possible. Maybe they are desirable," but they would have to be on a 
voluntary basis. However, he felt that the prevailing conditions in the Middle East were not 
conducive to voluntary emigration by the Arabs." (^) 

Why should Jabotinsky, a "right-winger" so strongly oppose the proposal for population 
transfer at a time when many socialist Zionists strongly supported the transfer of the Arabs, 
and in many cases were in favour of a transfer of a compulsory nature? 

A study of Jabotinsky's writings shows that his negative attitude to population transfer 
did not date from the period of the Peel Commission but can be traced back to at least 1916. In 
that year, Jabotinsky had a discussion with Zangwill during the course of which he found 
himself to be in complete disagreement with Zangwill's attitude to this problem. This 
discussion was reported in an article "A Talk with Zangwill" written by Jabotinsky in 1939 
(and discussed elsewhere in this work). 

In 1918, immediately after the publication of the Balfour Declaration, Jabotinsky wrote 
an article in the "Telegraph", a newspaper edited by Syrkin, which article (or at least an 
extract of it) was reprinted in the Warsaw hebrew newspaper "Hazefira". This article was 
written to refute the argument that it was impossible to give a "charter", in other words rule 

/ Palestine Royal Commission, Minutes of Evidence heard at Public Sessions, sixty-sixth meeting, 11 February 1937, 
2 / Ibid., p.369. 

/ Vladimir Jabotinsky, The Threatened Partition of Palestine, (Address to members of British Parliament), 13 July 
1937, pp.4-5, (CZA 23.480). 

/ Vladimir Jabotinsky, "Sunk without Trace", The 11th Hour, (Johannesburg), vol.1, no.25, 3 September 1937, 
pp. 17,27; On the Partition, Jerusalem, pp.5-6, (Jabotinsky Archives 14-4 gimmel). 

— 70 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

over Palestine, to one hundred thousand Jews, so long as the Arabs greatly outnumbered the 
Jews in the country. In the course of his argument, Jabotinsky wrote that "it is understood that 
those Arabs who dwell in Palestine are permitted and have the right to require that their 
toes are not trodden on." He felt that this matter was beyond argument and asserted that 
there was sufficient land available in Palestine for Jewish settlement, bringing figures to 
show that the population density of other countries was much greater than that of Palestine." 
(1) In a similar vein, in a letter to the Editor of "The Times" of London(^) written nearly two 
years later and reprinted in the Palestine newspaper "Ha'aretz",(^) Jabotinsky pointed out 
that to create the Jewish National Home, Palestine's resources must be developed so as to 
promote the "immigration of suitable elements and their settlement in the country." He then 
continued, "All talk of our intending to 'drive out the Arabs and take their place' is due either 
to ignorance or malice. This sort of 'driving out' is obviously as impossible politically as 
economically." He then pointed out that "driving out" the Arabs was unnecessary due to the 
smaller population density of Palestine as compared with other countries. It might be 
interesting to speculate here what Jabotinsky's attitude to this question would have been had 
Palestine's population density been greater than that of other countries, instead of smaller. 

It was in the early 1920's that Jabotinsky established the Revisionist Party. He became 
very sensitive to being regarded as an extreme Zionist, and to being periodically accused by 
his political opponents of planning to drive out the Arabs in order to make room for Jewish 
settlement. C) On several occasions, Jabotinsky stated his views against transference of the 
Arabs in order to prove that he was no extremist. 

In 1929, a discussion took place between Jabotinsky and Baron Edmond de Rothschild on 
the question of transfer, and this is described elsewhere in this work. 

A few years earlier an article by Moshe Smilensky had appeared in the newspapper 
"Ha'aretz", in which he had argued that there was no point in introducing agricultural 
reform into Palestine since there was no suitable land for Jewish agriculture. This point had 
also been made from the podium of the Zionist Congress. Jabotinsky was doubtful whether 
this, even if true, should be stated in public. In an article criticising Smilensky's opinion, 
Jabotinsky utilised the opportunity to show how moderate he was regarding the transfer of 
Arabs. "We have no intention of pushing anyone out of his house or field - there are enough 
abandoned fields in Palestine... It is dangerous and wrong to argue that we will not be able to 
plough a dunam in Palestine without removing from it - even with financial compensation - a 
person who has worked it before us. It is dangerous and wrong to prattle about things like 
this." C) 

Jabotinsky most vociferously denied any accusations of planning the removal of the 
Arabs from Palestine. Following a lecture which he gave at the end of 1926, a Salonica 
newspaper, "Pro-Israel", reported Jabotinsky as asserting that no only was a Jewish majority 
in Palestine to be striven for but the Arabs must also be completely driven out. In a letter to the 
lawyer Jonah Machover, Jabotinsky wrote denying that he had said such a thing, or anything 
which could be so interpreted. "Any attempt to remove any portion of the Arab population 
would be, first, morally inadmissible, secondly, absolutely hopeless, for the thing is 
impossible." (^) Just over a week later, the newspaper "Haolam" printed an almost identical 
letter from Jabotinsky. (') 

A similar incident occured in 1935, when Dr. Stephen Wise, a leader in the American 
Zionist movement, made a strong indictment against "Jabotinsky, his teachings and his 
leadership." Included in this indictment was the accusation that Jabotinsky's movement 
aspired to "an Arabless Palestine." Jabotinsky then issued a public statement and in answer to 

/ Vladimir labottnsky, "On ttie Arab Question", Hazefira, (Warsaw), no.5, 31 January 1918, p.9. 

/ Vladimir Jabotinsky, Letters to the Editor, The Times, (London), 27 November 1920, p. 6. 


/ Vladimir Jabotinsky, "The Palestine Mandate", Ha'aretz, (Tel-Aviv), 15 December 1920, p.2. 
* / Nedava, Gesher, op. cit., p. 154. 
/ Vladimir Jabotinsky, "Hamitrashmim", Hazaphon, (Haifa), no.5, 19 March 1926, p.2. 
/ Jabotinsky to Machover, 29 December 1926, (Jabotinsky Archives, 16/2/1 aleph). 

/ Vladimir Jabotinsky, Letters to the Editor, Haolam, (London), 7 January 1927, p. 3. 

— 71 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

the charge regarding "an Arabless Palestine" wrote, "I very seriously warn Dr. Wise and any 
possible imitators of his - if I hear anything of this kind again, I will demand a Court of 
Honor, on the strength of the London agreement which prohibits aliloth - and alila in good 
coloquial Hebrew means calumny." (^) In this "London Agreement", Ben-Gurion and Jabotinsky 
had come to an understanding and had worked out an agreement together which included the 
banning of libel and insults between their two movements. However, soon after Jabotinsky's 
warning to Wise, both movements rejected this agreement. 

A Zionist leader who did not concur with Jabotinsky views on the population question in 
Palestine was Jacob de Haas, who, in a letter which the latter wrote to Jabotinsky in October 
1936, disagreed with Jabotinsky's proposal to move one and a half million Jews to Palestine 
within a ten year period. Instead de Haas proposed moving half a million in a single 
operation. He felt that this "would smash the WZO [World Zionist Organisation] by impact" 
whereas Jabotinsky's policy "is likely to strengthen them." (One should remember that at 
that period, there was very bitter rivalry between the World Zionist Organisation and 
Jabotinsky's New Zionist Organisation!) De Haas then added that another advantage was 
that "it would along those lines be possible [to] talk of evacuating or restricting the Arabs." 

Jabotinsky's biographer, Joseph Schechtman, who also worked with him over an 
extended period, linked Jabotinsky's views on the subject of transferring the Arabs from 
Palestine, with his conception of a Jewish State. Schechtman wrote that Jabotinsky's recipe 
for the Arab problem "was realistic and stern: the establishment of a Jewish majority in 
Palestine will have to be achieved against the wish of the country's present Arab majority; 
an "iron wall" of a Jewish armed force would have to protect the process of achieving a 
majority; after that goal was reached, the Arabs would have no choice but to adapt 
themselves to the new state of affairs; then and only then, a modus vivendi would be worked 
out, always on the basis of the premise that two peoples, Jews and Arabs, were going to live 
and work in that country." (^) 

Although Jabotinsky had come out so strongly against any proposal for the transfer of 
the Arabs from Palestine, his views on this subject underwent a change. At the beginning of 
December 1937, Jabotinsky met with Edward Norman, a man who had prepared a scheme to 
transfer Arabs from Palestine to Iraq and who had come to London to discuss his plan with 
various people. In his diary Norman wrote that Jabotinsky had already read a copy of his 
Iraq paper. "He approved of the whole idea very much. He said that he felt, however, that 
the most difficult part would be to induce Arabs to leave Palestine." Norman said that 
Jabotinsky had suggested a "Macchiavellian" scheme to encourage the .Palestine Arabs to 
emigrate thus enabling Norman to carry out the plan in the event of Iraq's agreeing to its 
implementation. According to Jabotinsky, the Zionist Organisation should "openly oppose 
Arab emigration from Palestine." The Arabs would then be sure that the plan was of non- 
Jewish origin and that the Jews only wanted them to stay in Palestine in order to exploit 
them. They would therefore "want very much to go away to Iraq." (*) 

Schechtman felt that the evolution of the minority problem in pre-Second World War 
Europe considerably influenced Jabotinsky's opinion on the transferring of minorities when any 
other solution seemed impracticable. (') We have reviewed Zangwill's conversation with 
Jabotinsky in 1916, on the subject of transfer of the Arabs from Palestine. In an article written 
in 1939, Jabotinsky admitted that perhaps Zangwill's reasoning was logical but was so far 
removed from his own conceptions (having been brought up in Eastern Europe) that it was hard 
for him to accept. (^) He then mentioned the agreement which had just been signed between 
Germany and Italy providing for the transfer of Germans from Southern Tyrol and described it 

/ Joseph Schechtman, Fighter & Prophet. The Vladimir Jabotinsky Story, Enghsh ed., (New York, 1961), pp.269-70. 
2 / de Haas to Jabotinsky, 7 October 1936, (CZA A404/719). 

/ Schechtman, Fighter & Prophet, English ed., op. cit,., p.324. 
* / Ibid., p.325. 
5 / Ibid. 

/ Der Moment, op. cit.; Writings of Jabotinsky, vol.17, op. cit., p.260; Jewish Herald, op. cit., p.5. 

— 72 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

as an "amicable precedent" which would have a future influence on the fate of minorities in 
other places. "It is a constructive friendly attempt," he continued, "to solve the problem for 
the common good, with the consent of the second nation, in a radical and definite manner." He 
concluded that for good or for bad a new concept (population transfer) had entered the world 
and would have to be taken into consideration in future planning, (i) 

In his last book "The War and the Jew", Jabotinsky, according to Schechtman, "fully 
endorsed the idea of a voluntary Arab transfer from Palestine." (^) In this book, Jabotinsky 
wrote that "he refused to see a tragedy or a disaster" in the Arabs' willingness to emigrate. 
He felt that since there was the "great moral authority" of the Peel Commission "for calmly 
envisaging the exodus of 350,000 Arabs from one corner of Palestine, we need not regard the 
possible departure of 900,000 with dismay," adding, however, that he could see no necessity 
for this exodus. O Jabotinsky considered that majority rule was not such a "perfect panacea." 
He held that for a "radical remedy" one would have to follow the precedent of the Greco- 
Turkish population exchange but he doubted whether it would be feasible. "But theoretically 
the idea of redistributing minorities en masse is becoming more popular among 'the best 
people' and there is no longer any taboo on the discussion of the subject." (^) As we can see, all 
this was quite a radical change from Jabotinsky's statements of just two years earlier, when he 
had in no uncertain terms described the transfer proposal of the Peel Commission as "babble" 
and had expressed surprise that they were "not ashamed to publish such nonsensical ideas." 

In "The War and the Jew", Jabotinsky explained that the fact that Arabs preferring to 
migrate could do so, would prove that they had "somewhere else" where they could build a 
new home. He was certain that "any Arab country which should find the courage and the 
acreage for inviting such an immigration of trekkers would reap enormous material 
advantages... The Arab trekkers, moreover, would probably migrate with donkey loads of 
pelf." (^) However, despite such justification, Jabotinsky considered that "Palestine, astride 
the Jordan has room enough for the million of Arabs, room for another million of their 
eventual progeny, for several million Jews and for peace." ('') 

On 9 November 1939, Jabotinsky had a meeting with Professor Shlomo (Stefan) Klinger, 
a member of the Nessiut (Presidency) of the New Zionist Organisation. At this meeting a 
number of subjects were discussed, amongst them the transfer of Arabs from Palestine. Notes on 
the contents of this meeting were written up by Jabotinsky. ('). The part on transfer reads: 
"Arabs will have to make room. If Baits may be moved. Pal. [Palestinian] Arabs certainly so. 
Where to? - Give half a billion dollars loan to Iraq or Saoudia [sic]." It is not clear from these 
notes whether these are the views of Klinger, or whether this is what was agreed upon 
between Jabotinsky and Klinger. 

These notes then continue with Jabotinsky writing "My own" and noting down his 
opinion on a number of issues. On the loan for the purpose of transfer of Arabs he writes, "This 
is the job for Amer. [American] Jewry." 

Let us assume for the sake of argument that the first alternative given above - [namely, 
that the Arab transfer proposal is just Klinger's personal view] - is the correct one. We can see 
that even then, not only does Jabotinsky not oppose Klinger's plans for Arab transfer, but he 
even suggests how a loan for this purpose might be raised. 

In February 1988, an article entitled "Expelling Palestinians" written by the journalists 
Yossi Melman and Dan Raviv, appeared in "The Washington Post". (*) This article stated 
that Jabotinsky supported the idea of Arab transfer and "in November 1939, he wrote a letter 
to one of his party members." The contents of the letter, as reported in this article, correspond 

1 / Ibid.; Ibid., p.263; Ibid., p.7. 

/ Schechtman, Fighter & Prophet, English ed., op. cit.,p.326. 
^ / Vladimir Jabotinsky, The War and the Jew, (New York, 1942), pp.218-19. 
* / Ibid., p.220. 
5 / Ibid., p. 221. 
^ / Ibid., p.222. 

/ Notes on Meeting between Jabotinsky and Klinger, 9 November 1939, (Jabotinsky Archives, 2/12/1 aleph). 

/ Yossi Melman and Dan Raviv, "Expelling Palestinians", The Washington Post, 7 February 1988, Outlook Section, 

— 73 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

to the points made in Jabotinsky's notes on his meeting with Khnger. It is not known whether 
this is the text of an actual letter written by Jabotinsky, or whether it was "constructed" from 
these notes of Jabotinsky's. 

Discussions on Jabotinsky's real attitude towards the transfer of Arabs from Palestine 
also took place during the 1980s in the Israeli press. 

In an article published in May 1981, Asher Rubinstein stated that Jabotinsky was 
consistently opposed to transfer, and he brought no fewer than eight examples, ranging from 
1916 to 1938, to prove his point. He however then continued by stating that Jabotinsky was not 
opposed to their emigration by their own free-will, quoting a few examples from December 
1937 onwards. C) 

A few months later in January 1982, an argument on the subject appeared in the columns 
of the newspaper "Ha'aretz". It began by Shulamit Hareven mentioning in an article that 
Jabotinsky had argued in 1940 that the departure from Palestine of one million Arabs by their 
own free-will would not be seen as a tragedy. (^) 

In answer to Hareven, David Niv in a letter to the newspaper, argued passionately, 
that more than any other Zionist leader, Jabotinsky was fanatically opposed to any proposal 
or even hint of transfer of Arabs. (^) 

Dr. Yosef Heller replied to this letter and brought proofs of Jabotinsky real attitude 
towards transfer from: 1: his conversation with Edward Norman at the end of 1937, 2: his 
"conversation with Zangwill", which Heller argued, clearly showed that Jabotinsky's 
attitude towards transfer had changed already in 1936, and 3: in his book "The War and the 
Jews", in which he wrote that he saw nothing exceptional in transfer. 

In order to explain Jabotinsky's public statements on the subject, which seemed to show a 
different attitude. Heller explained "that as long as the question of Palestine was still the 
subject of a furious debate, one should be careful in public statements. As against that, in his 
discussion with Edward Norman, his true stand is revealed and this was because he spoke in 
private." (^) 


Baron Edmond de Rothschild was a philanthropist, who in the 1880s patronised the 
first settlements in Palestine and saved them from collapse. He became the major address for 
all problems in the Yishuv (Jewish areas of settlement), and thus became known as "Father of 
the Yishuv". All the agricultural experiments carried out in the Jewish settlements by French 
experts were covered by his funds. 

In 1929, Rothschild put forward his views on Arab transfer in the course of a discussion 
he had with Jabotinsky. After this conversation, Jabotinsky wrote, "People say that I am an 
extremist but... compared with the Baron I am a moderate... I, for example am prepared to be 
satisfied with a majority of 55 - 60 per cent (Jews) in Palestine, whereas he wants Palestine to 
be completely Jewish... He is prepared to give the Arabs money to enable them to buy other 
land on condition that they leave Palestine." Jabotinsky went on to praise the Baron for his 
great character and noble spirit and for his beliefs that Palestine would be as Jewish as 
France was French. "He is a Zionist, a visionary who yearns for Jewish independence more 
than we do." (^) 

[These views of Rothschild's proposing transfer of Arabs were originally written in an 
(untraced) letter written by Rothschild to Jabotinsky in 1929. They were printed in the 
Mexican Yiddish newspaper "Tribuna Sionista", in May 1954, in an article by Solomon 

/ Asher Rubinstein, "Attitude of Jabotinsky to the Partition Proposal and Transfer of Arabs in accordance with the 
Peel Commission", Ha-umma, (Tel-Aviv), no.63. May 1981, pp.80-81. 

/ Shulamit Hareven, "Beware, Transfer", Ha'aretz, (Tel-Aviv),12 January 1982, p. 13 
3 / David Niv, Letters to the Editor, Ha'aretz, (Tel-Aviv), 17 January 1982, p. 12. 
* / Dr. Yosef Heller, Letters to the Editor, Ha'aretz, (TeLAviv), 29 January 1982, p.24. 
^ / Joseph Schechtman, The Vladimir Jabotinsky Story, vol.2, 1923-35, Hebrew ed., (TeLAviv, 1959), p.l52. 

— 74 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Gepstein,(i) a person who had been associted with Jabotinsky throughout the latter's career.] 

Further incidents concerning Baron de Rothschild and his plans to transfer Arabs from 
Palestine were related by Shabetai Levy. Levy was one of Baron de Rothschild's officials in 
PICA, where he assisted in land reclamation projects throughout Palestine. Later, between 
the years 1940 - 1951, he was Mayor of Haifa. 

In his memoirs, Shabetai Levy writes on his own involvement with the transfer of Arab 
peasants from Palestine to Syria. Levy reports that the Baron would use every opportunity to 
stress that there should be a continuity of Jewish land in Palestine. Levy had been successful 
in carrying out this policy in the Lower Galilee - with the exception of one small Arab 
village, where the villagers persistently refused to sell. He went on to write that "one day I 
had the idea to suggest to the Arabs that they agree to transfer to Syria on condition they 
receive from us two and a quarter times the land we receive from them" together with other 
financial compensation. The Arabs agreed to this proposal and Levy then went to Syria where 
he found suitable land and the transfer of Arabs was thus implemented. (^) 

Baron Rothschild was not however satisfied with the proximity to Palestine of the 
transferred Arabs. This we know from a meeting which took place between him and Levy on a 
visit of the latter to Paris. The Baron began by praising Levy for his work in redeeming the 
land and advised him to continue with similar work. Levy then .reported Rothschild as 
saying, "but it is better not to transfer the Arabs to Syria and Transjordan since they are parts 
of Palestine, but to Mesopotamia (Iraq). He added that under such circumstances, he would be 
prepared to send the Arabs, on his account, new agricultural machinery and instructors of 
agriculture." C) 

Similar comments by Rothschild on transfer were reported by Levy in a talk which he 
gave on the English language radio channel "Kol Zion Lagolah" in July 1951. Levy's main 
work was the acquisition of land in Palestine, and on one occasion had to conclude an exchange 
of properties in a certain Lower Galilee village. It was on the Sabbath that Levy and 
Rothschild met in Haifa to discuss the matter. The Baron was concerned that the Arab 
peasant might suffer from this exchange and thus asked Levy to suggest to these Arabs that 
they move to Iraq. In the event of such an agreement, the Baron was prepared to pay their 
transport and resettlement costs. Levy then took out his notebook to write down these 
instructions of the Baron, but he was immediately rebuked by the latter, "Don't you know it is 
the Sabbath and that it is forbidden to write? You have a good memory and you will surely 
remember what I am telling you until to-morrow." (*) 


Felix Warburg was born in 1871 in Hamburg, Germany, and he participated in the 
financial aspects of the economic and industrial transformation of the U.S.A. He was also 
active in educational and cultural spheres. As far as his Zionist activities were concerned, 
Warburg was active in promoting Jewish settlement in Palestine. He cooperated with 
Marshall and Weizmann in broadening the Jewish Agency to include non-Zionists. Until the 
latter part of 1930, he was Chairman of the Jewish Agency Administrative Committee. 

On 16 June 1930, Bernard Flexner sent a coded telegram from London to Warburg in New 
York. Towards the end of the telegram he wrote: "Have passed on suggestion ref[?] on 
Transjordania" (^) - presumably the author of the suggestion was Warburg. On the same day, 
Joseph Hyman, who was Warburg's assistant on the Jewish Agency's Administrative 

/ S. Gepstein, "Jabotinsky talking about Baron Rothschild", Tribuna Sionista, (Mexico), no.61, 22 May 1954, p.3. 

/ Shabetai Levy, "From my Memoirs", Haifa, Oliphant and the Zionist Vision, ed. Joseph Nedava, (Haifa, [n.d.]), 
3 / Ibid., p. 129. 

/ Mr. Shabetai Levy's talk in the Series "1 Remember" in English Programme "Kol Zion La Gola", July 1951, (Haifa 
Municipal Archives, section 18-6, Shabetai Levy Archives file 7) ; Shabetai Levy, "1 Remember the Baron", Jerusalem 
Post, 6 AprU 1954, supplement on Baron de Rothschild, p.l. 

/ Incoming Cablegram, Flexner to Warburg, 16 June 1930, (Princeton University, Louis Brandeis Papers, Reel 90) 

— 75 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Committee in New York, wrote a letter to Louis Brandeis enclosing the text of the decoded 
telegram. In this letter Hyman explained that the reference to Transjordan concerned "a 
possible inquiry into the nature of British aid to agriculture in Egypt and in other mandated or 
colonial possessions with a view to determining whether such aid if granted, could facilitate 
emigration of Arabs into Transjordania, and increasing agricultural possibilities for Jews in 
Palestine." {^) 

At the end of October 1930, a few days after the publication of the Passfield White 
Paper, which limited Jewish immigration into Palestine, Warburg wrote a letter to Sir John 
Chancellor, the High Commissioner of Palestine, in which he cautiously proposed the 
transfer of Arabs to Transjordan. He pointed out that it was not a new suggestion that Britain 
"might lend its credit guaranty towards the purpose of acquiring a larger quantity of better 
land than is obtainable in Palestine, at a lower rate, and settle those of the Arabs who would 
like to become up to date farmers on such lands." Warburg went on to explain that it was not "a 
question of driving out the Arabs who do first class work where they are in Palestine, but of 
removing those who are not working now to places where they can show their willingness to 
acquire real skill as farmers." (^) 

A few days later, a hugh demonstration of 40,000 people took place in Madison Square 
Garden in New York, in order to protest against the White Paper. (') Amongst the numerous 
Jewish and non-Jewish speakers (including those who sent messages), was Felix Warburg, who 
as a result of the White Paper had resigned his position as Chairman of the Administrative 
Committee of the Jewish Agency. Warburg "disputed the contentions in the Passfield report 
that the land was overcrowded and that the supply of arable land would be exhausted by the 
present population." He then pointed out that Transjordan's soil and water conditions were 
better than those of Palestine and he went on to propose a transfer scheme: "If the Mandatory 
Government feels that something should be done for the felaheen, it may be well to consider if 
for the same amount invested much larger quantities of better land could be acquired and that 
part of the Arab population which is now employed urged to develop part of Transjordania. It 
is unjust to speak of such an offer of land in Transjordania as expatriation of the Arabs, as 
Transjordania is distinctly Arab territory and is only separated from Palestine by the Jordan 
[River]." (*) 

During the 1930s, Warburg, in the course of his Zionist work, was in contact with Judge 
Julian Mack. Mack, at that period was a judge in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal. He had 
also held high posts on Zionist bodies. Mack had obviously been thinking about the question 
of transfer of Arabs to Transjordan, since in a letter which he wrote to Warburg in October 
1936, he said that "when he [Garratt - whom Warburg considered to be a friend of the 
Zionists] talks about cantonization he does not consider the possibility of the Arabs going to 
the possibly more fertile soil of Trans-Jordania." (^) 


Menachem Ussishkin was born in Russia in 1863 and in his early life was a member of 
Hovevei Zion. He was Hebrew Secretary to the First Zionist Congress in 1897 and a few years 
later led the opposition to the "Uganda Scheme". In 1919, he settled in Palestine and from 
1923 until his death in 1941 was head of the Jewish National Fund. 

Following the 1929 massacres in Palestine, the British Government commissioned the 
Shaw Report in which differing opinions were offered as to the availability of land in 
Palestine for future Jewish immigration. A few weeks after publication of the Report, towards 

/ Hyman to Brandeis, 16 lune 1930, (Princeton University, Louis Brandeis Papers, Reel 90). 

/ Warburg to Chancellor, 27 October 1930, (Princeton University, Louis Brandeis Papers, Reel 90). 

/ "40,000 Here Protest on Palestine Policy", The New York Times, 3 November 1930, p.4 ; "American Jewry Scores 
England's Guilt", The Jewish Tribune, (New York), 7 November 1930, p.6. 

/ Felix Warburg, "Transjordan, Part of Palestine", The New Palestine, (New York), vol.xix, no.7, 7 November 1930, 

/ Mack to Warburg, 16 October 1936, (Princeton University, Louis Brandeis Papers, Reel 104 

— 76 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

the end of April 1930, the Jewish National Fund invited local and foreign journalists to the 
Eden Hotel in Jerusalem, to hear a lecture by Menachem Ussishkin. 

After referring to the different opinions regarding future Jewish immigration, Ussishkin 
proposed transfer of the Arabs from Palestine. "We must continually proclaim our demand 
that our land be returned to our possession. If the land is empty of inhabitants - Good! If, 
however there are other inhabitants there, they must be transferred to some other place, but 
we must receive the land! We have an ideal greater and more elevated than standing guard 
over hundreds of thousands of fellaheen [Arab peasants]." 

Ussishkin pointed out that since the Arabs had many lands at their disposal whereas 
the Jewish people had none, it was surely just that Palestine be given to the Jews. However, 
this would only be necessary in the future, "as for this generation, most of the land is just 
waiting to be reclaimed." (^) 

In May 1936, Ussishkin told a meeting of the Executive of the Jewish Agency in 
Jerusalem, "I would very, very much like the Arabs (of Palestine) to go to Iraq and I hope that 
they will go there sometime." He gave two reasons for this. Firstly, the agricultural 
opportunities were greater in Iraq than in Palestine and secondly, in Iraq the transferees 
would find themselves in an Arab rather than a Jewish State. However, Ussishkin discounted 
the possibility of either deportation of the Arabs, or a population transfer by means of which 
Diaspora Jewry would be moved to Palestine and the Jews of Palestine would "send them 
Arabs." Instead, he proposed that the Zionists should request that Transjordan be 
incorporated into Palestine. Usishkin said that it would be quite legitimate for the British to 
argue that there should be sufficient land for the Arab peasants, provided that Transjordan 
either be given over to Jewish settlement, or if the request for Jewish settlement there were to 
be rejected, then Transjordan should be "for the resettlement of those Arabs whose lands we 
will purchase." He felt that even the most ethical person could not oppose such an idea. (^) 

A few months later, towards the end of 1936, Ussishkin declined to appear before the 
Peel Commission then in Palestine to take evidence. In the course of an article written in 
February 1937 and entitled "Why I Did Not Testify", Ussishkin explained his opposition to 
the approach taken by the Zionist Executive when giving evidence before the Peel 
Commission. On the question of State lands, Ussishkin wrote that the Zionist Executive 
should have argued as follows: "We believe that there is room in Palestine also for the Arabs 
but if you maintain that there is no room for them in the country, then they can find land in 
other places.... The Arab people have immense areas of land at their disposal; our people 
have nothing except a grave's plot. We demand that our inheritance, Palestine, be returned to 
us and if there is no room for Arabs, they have the opportunity of going to Iraq." (^) 


The Zionist leader, Moshe Shertok, was born in Ukraine in 1894 and immigrated to 
Palestine with his family at the age of twelve. From 1933, he was head of the Political 
Department of the Jewish Agency and with the establishment of the State of Israel, became 
the first Foreign Minister. From the beginning of 1954 for a period of nearly two years, he was 
Prime Minister of Israel. 

At a parlour meeting held in the house of Dr. G. Halpern in Jerusalem on 21 December 
1937, Shertok delivered a lecture on the practical fundamentals of political Zionism. The 
meeting was obviously a closed one since the text of the lecture was marked "secret". 

A few months earlier, the Peel Commission had proposed the transfer of Arabs from the 
area of the Jewish State and this proposal was currently under serious discussion and 
investigation by a special committee of the Jewish Agency. This was also the period of Hitler 
and the Nazis in Germany and since 1933 legislation and discrimination against the Jews of 

/ "Lecture by M. M. Ussishkin before Journalists", Doar Hayom, (Jerusalem), 28 April 1930, pp.1, 4. 
2 / Minutes J.A. Exec, vol.25/3, no.57, 19 May 1936, pp.28-29, (CZA). 
^ / Menachem Ussishkin, "Why I Did Not Testify", The New Palestine, (New York), vol.27, no.5, 5 February 1937, p.3. 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Germany had been intensifying. 

During the questions and answers at the end of Shertok's lecture, the question of transfer 
of the Arab population from Palestine came up. Apparently, the questioner implied that 
there was a similarity between the proposal to transfer the Arabs from Palestine and the 
treatment of the German Jews by Hitler. 

Shertok immediately discounted any parallel whatsoever adding that what Germany 
was doing to her Jews was "taking them and throwing them out without any concern for their 
future and without permitting them to take their possessions with them." In contrast, the 
transfer of Arabs would have either to be by agreement or not take place at all. Shertok, 
however, then explained what he meant by the word "agreement". "There does not have to be 
agreement with every individual Arab but there has to be agreement with another 
government. In any case, whether with complete agreement or without agreement, there must 
be no expulsion of people with negation of their property rights and without concern for their 
resettlement. Even were the transfer to be compulsory, there must be compensation for property 
left behind and concern for resettlement in the new location. If this is impossible, then it is 
impossible, but no comparison can be made between the transfer proposal here and the 
situation in Germany." (i) 

Shertok's comments on transfer are somewhat contradictory. He first says that transfer 
must be "by agreement or not take place at all" - agreement being with the receiving 
government but not with every Arab transferee. He then contradicts himself by speaking of 
transfer "with agreement or without agreement" - namely compulsory transfer - so long as the 
transferees receive compensation for their immovable property and steps are taken to ensure 
that they are properly rehabilitated in their new country. Finally he adds that even if this 
is found to be impossible, there is still no comparison to be made with Nazi Germany. 


Abraham Sharon (Schwadron) was born in Galicia in 1878 and settled in Palestine in 
1927. He was a prolific writer who was mainly concerned with Zionist polemics and the basic 
principles of Zionism. Among his hundreds of critical and admonitory articles, published in 
almost every Hebrew newspaper, were a number dealing with population transfer. Some of 
these articles were concerned with general ideas on transfer, whilst others dealt with his 
specific proposals for the transfer of Arabs from Palestine. 

Sharon first put forward his views on population transfer in 1916. In a series of articles 
entitled "A Revision of Pacifism", published in the July-October 1916 issue of the pacifist and 
anti-imperialist journal "Dokuments des Forschritts", Sharon attempted to apply "the 
framework of the Zionist idea to other nationalities, that is to solve their national problems 
by an agreed and organised transfer of a nation or parts of it to the territory of another state." 


Dr. Moshe Yegar, who made an intensive study of the writings of Sharon, commented on 
the above passage, "In other words, the transfer of the Palestinian Arabs to the neighbouring 
countries and the transfer of Diaspora Jewry to Palestine, as the only solution of the Palestine 
problem." According to Yegar, Sharon would sometimes claim that he was the original 
proposer of this idea. As Yegar commented, Sharon was obviously unaware of earlier 
proposals, "Nevertheless, there was nobody within the Zionist movement like Sharon with 
his constant preaching and insistance on the idea of the transfer of populations." Yegar 
concluded, "To the extent that Sharon is still remembered, his name is mainly connected , 
generally in a distorted way, with proposals to remove the Arabs from Palestine." (') 

In August 1930, in reaction to the anti-imperialist Congress which had taken place a 

^ / Lecture by Moshe Shertok, Jerusalem, 21 December 1937, p. 23, (CZA S25/444). 

/ Abraham Schwadron, "Imperialism, Pacifism and Zionism", Opinion, (New York), July 1936, pp. 14-15 ; Abraham 
Schwadron, "Arab Imperialism", Hatekufah, (Tel-Aviv), 26-27, 1930, p.501. 

/ Moshe Yegar, Integral Zionism - A Study in the Teaching of Abraham Sharon, (Tel-Aviv, 1983), pp.86-87. 

— 78 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

month earlier in Frankfurt and which had censured Zionism, Sharon pubhshed an article 
reiterating his .views on population transfer, (i) In his manuscript, Sharon has added the 
following handwritten comment at the end of his article, "This was the main point: The 
chapter whose inference is the transfer of the Arabs to the Arab lands - and the editors 
refused to publish it!" (^) 

In 1937, Sharon published a booklet in which he wrote of "a new pacifism, a pacifism 
which will not sanctify every status quo, but will supplant the static equilibrium in 
international relations by a dynamic equilibrium." This new pacifism would permit a 
population transfer from an overpopulated to an underpopulated country in accordance with 
the conditions first proposed by Sharon in 1916. (^) 

In an article written about four years later, Sharon pointed out that in earlier history, 
the problems of minorities were solved by "destruction of the weak by sword and fire." 
However, "Now", he said, "Zionism has come and shown us a new way:- a radical solution for 
quarrels between peoples living in one land by means of the transfer of one of the peoples to a 
different territory; a transfer that is not an uprooting and a destruction but a planting and an 
alleviation. It is certainly a very difficult and complicated solution, but it is fundamental, 
realistic and of enduring value." 

Sharon said that there had been several international examples of population transfer 
since Zionism had first propounded the idea. He added that the members of the Peel 
Commission, which had recommended population transfer for Palestine were "qualified and 
very experienced men." 

Sharon, writing in the early 1940s, hoped that "the principle of the concentration of 
nations" would in the future be accepted by the enlightened world so that all minorities 
would be treated according to the principle of "a people that shall dwell alone", each 
concentrated in its own territory. This, said Sharon, was the "overall conceptual framework of 
Zionism - the concept of transfer and concentration of nations." Although at the time when the 
Zionists first put forward this idea it was regarded as strange and unusual, "today it is 
becoming more and more acceptable in the wide world." (*) 

Soon after the publication of the Peel Report in the summer of 1937, Moshe Smilensky 
came out against its proposal to transfer the Arabs from Palestine. Whereupon Sharon 
published an article in the Palestine daily "Ha'aretz" in which he said that although he 
fully agreed with Smilensky's objections to partition, great harm could be caused to the future 
of the Jewish community in Palestine, if Smilensky's views on population exchange were to be 
accepted by the public. 

"Mr. Smilensky rightly shows the impossibility of agreeing to a Jewish State where the 
majority of the land would be owned by non-Jews", said Sharon. However, the disparity in 
the ratio between the Jewish and Arab populations "is even more terrible and ridiculous." 
Even with mass Jewish immigration, the Arabs would remain "a large alien minority which 
would simply nullify the Jewish character of our State." 

After referring to the recommendation of the Peel Commission regarding the transfer of 
population, Sharon added that the "Evening Standard" and other important newspapers had 
considered the problem of transferring the Arabs to Transjordan. Even the radical socialist, 
Henry Noel Brailsford, had written that although there might be no justice in forcing a 
quarter of a million Arab peasants to leave their homes in the Jewish State and transfer to 
the Arab State, their remaining in the Jewish area would hinder Jewish settlement. Sharon 
observed that whereas many non-Jews supported this transfer, Smilensky still opposed it. 

Smilensky had suggested that a non-Jewish minority in their midst would give the 
Jewish people in their sovereign land the opportunity to demonstrate the correct way to treat 
minorities. Sharon asked how Smilensky could be so sure that the Jewish Nation would live 
up to such standards adding that even Smilensky had continually complained about the 

/ Schwadron, Hatekufah, op. cit. 
/ Yegar, Integral Zionism, op. cit., p.89. 

/ Abraham Schwadron (Sharon), Arab Imperiahsm, (London, 1937), p.5. 
* / Abraham Sharon, Mishnei Evrei Hasha'ah, (Tel-Aviv, 1947), pp. 167-68. 

— 79 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Jewish Community's relations with non-Jews neighbours. 

Sharon conceded that Smilensky had quite rightly objected to forcible transfer of the 
Arabs. But he was incorrect, averred Sharon, when he said that the Zionist establishment 
could not draw a parallel from the Greco-Turkish population exchange because that exchange 
had involved a reciprocal agreement between two peoples and two states. The Peel 
Commission had brought it as a precedent for the situation in Palestine. "We must therefore 
not begin any negotiations without a condition regarding population exchange 'with a 
reciprocal agreement between two peoples and two states' and a transfer of land ownership 
with suitable and fair compensation." (i) 

The Greco-Turkish population exchange was carried out by agreement between the two 
states, but was compulsory insofar as the individual transferees were concerned. Presumably, 
Sharon intended these same conditions to obtain in the proposed Jewish-Arab population 

In another article, Sharon referred to a lecture which he delivered around 1940 to a 
kibbutz of "Hashomer Hazair" in which he specifically proposed a transfer of Arabs. The 
lecture was on the Jewish-Arab problem and in the course of it, "I argued for a population 
transfer as a solution to this problem. The Arabs will go from here to Iraq and the Jews from 
the Diaspora to here." (^) 

As was to be expected, the members of Hashomer Hazair were opposed to Sharon's ideas 
on transfer. At the beginning of 1942, Meir Ya'ari of Hashomer Hazair put his case in opposing 
the transfer of Arabs in an answer he wrote to an article by Sharon. (^) 

Incidentally, this particular article by Sharon does not seem to talk about the transfer 
of Arabs, but the transfer of Jews from the Diaspora to Palestine. For this transfer of Jews, 
Sharon considered that a two-part agreement was required - an agreement to ensure an ordered 
absorption of Jews into Palestine and an agreement with the country of origin to ensure the 
liquidation of equipment and property. (*) 

Ya'ari doubted Sharon's powers of persuasion in attempting to convince "the neighbours" 
that "it would be to their advantage to leave the land where they have lived for hundreds of 
years" with all its topographical and economic advantages. 

Ya'ari said, "If Mr. A. Sharon were to take the trouble to sit down at the table with his 
neighbours" he would have to explain why after the collapse of Nazism it was not possible 
for two peoples to live together in one country. He also felt sure that after the termination of 
the war, the democratic world would neither accept transfers nor provide the financial 
assistance to implement them. (') [In fact, after the Second World War, countless millions of 
people in Europe and other places were transferred from country to country with the 
acquiescence of the democratic countries.] 

The difficulties inherent in two sets of people with differing ideologies living together 
in one place can be illustrated from the case of the two kibbutzim. Bet Alfa and Ramat 
Yohanan. Both these kibbutzim consisted entirely of Jews - socialistic Jews. However their 
members were of different nuances of socialist ideology; some members followed the 
Hashomer Hazair ideology whilst others followed Mapai ideology. These differences in 
ideology spilled over into the social life of the kibbutzim poisoning personal relations to such 
an extent that members of the kibbutzim found it impossible to live together. After a long 
period of growing tension, a population transfer was implemented in 1939 between these two 
kibbutzim by concentrating all members with the Hashomer Hazair ideology in Bet Alfa and 
those with the Mapai ideology in Ramat Yohanan. 

In a lecture delivered to a kibbutz of Hashomer Hazair about a year after the Bet Alfa/ 
Ramat Yohanan "population transfer", Sharon said, "You are a little closer to your friends in 
Mapai, than the Arabs are to the Jews, yet you were not able to continue living in your 'Bi- 

/ Abraham Sharon, "He'arot shelo I'guf hainyan", Ha'aretz, (Tel-Aviv), 23 August 1937, pp. 3-4. 

/ Abraham Sharon, "He'arot chauvinistiot I'inyan ha'aravim", Beterem, (Tel-Aviv), July 1949, p.42. 

/ Meir Ya'ari, "Evacuation - Transfer - Agreement", Hashom Hazair, (Tel- Aviv), no. 6, 4 February 1942, pp.4-5. 

/ Abraham Sharon, "Evacuation - Transfer - Agreement", Hashomer Hazair, (Tel- Aviv), no.6, 4 February 1942, p.4. 

/ Ya'ari, Hashomer Hazair, op. cit. 

— 80 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

National State'..." C) 

In the years following the establishment of the State of Israel, Sharon continued to put 
forward his plans regarding transfer. (^) 


Berl Katznelson was an educator, writer and a leader of the Zionist Labour movement. 
He was one of the few people who would press for the observance of Sabbath, festivals and 
dietary laws in the Histadrut kitchens, and he wanted the young people to respect and 
appreciaate their Jewish religious heritage. 

As we can see elsewhere in this work, Katznelson would regularly speak up in favour of 
transferring Arabs from Palestine. 

At a meeting of the Zionist General Council held in November 1942, Berl Katznelson 
quoted the Hashomer Hazair leader Meir Ya'ari as saying that Ben-Gurion had renounced 
transfer. Katznelson then commented: "I don't know what he [Ya'ari] means by 'renounced' and 
what he means by 'transfer' ... To the extent that I know Zionist ideology, this is part of the 
realisation of Zionism, the perception of this Zionism is the transfer of a people from country 
to country - a transfer by agreement. For an agreed immigration I do not agree, but for an agreed 
transfer I am prepared to agree in regard to our neighbours." 

He pointed out that the Zionists held that transfer was one of the great ideas which 
was taking place in the world - in some places in a very good manner but in others in a very 
bad one. He said that the Zionists had never abandoned the idea of transfer when it is 
carried out in a fair manner, and felt that the developments which might come about after 
the termination of the Second World War could very possibly lead to an agreed transfer. 

Katznelson then continued: "Since I have entered into this argument, we will see this 
question through: Was the establishment of Merchavia accomplished without transfer? 
There was indeed transfer of one or two Arab villages, by agreement with the Jews; was this 
unfair or unethical? This we arranged in a small area of Palestine for the sake of a small 
settlement. And the members of Hashomer Hazair are dwelling in Merchavia, in Mishmar 
Haemek - is this not transfer, moving of [Arab] population from place to .place? If transfer is 
unethical from the outset, then the settlement on the land by Hashomer Hazair is unethical, 
because it utilises the moving of population from place to place, and it is not only we who are 
making use of transfer." He concluded by pointing out that the Jews were enjoying the benefits 
from the small transfer that had taken place in Palestine during the previous sixty years. 
"Therefore Ya'ari should not reject this idea, reject it on ethical grounds." (^) 

A detailed study of the character of Berl Katznelson has been made by his biographer 
Anita Shapira. With regards to his attitude towards transfer, she wrote that Berl saw in a 
mutually agreed transfer a real answer to the Arab problem in Palestine. From the time that 
the Peel Commission put forward this proposal, he was very enchanted with the idea. Just as 
transfer had solved the Greco-Turkish conflict, Berl saw it as a long term solution to the 
Jewish-Arab conflict. He was therefore very pleased when the British Labour party put 
forward transfer of Arabs as part of its Palestine policy. Shapira concluded that Katznelson's 
"thoughts on population transfer were characteristic of him; he did not recoil from 
revolutionary changes, from audacious exchanges, and he believed that the aftermath of the 
[second world] war would be the opportune moment for change." (*) 


/ Sharon, Beterem, op. cit. 

/ Yegar, Integral Zionism, op. cit., pp.95ff ; Nedava, Gesher, op. cit., p. 159. 
3 / Minutes of Inner Zionist General CouncU, 10 November 1942, p.5, (CZA S25/294). 
* / Anita Shapira, Berl, part 2, (Tel-Aviv, 1980), pp.608-09. 

— 81 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Yitzchak Tabenkin was a Labour leader in Palestine. He was among the founders of the 
Kibbutz ha-Me'uhad movement and also of the Ahdut ha-Avodah party. 

As we shall see, following the publication of the Peel Commission's transfer proposal in 
1937, Tabenkin expressed strong opposition to this propoal at a meeting of the Council of 
"World Unity", whilst at the same period agreed to the idea of a voluntary transfer in his 
speeches to the 20th Zionist Congress and to a Mapai Council Meeting! His agreement to a 
voluntary transfer continued into the 1940s. 

In 1943, a discussion took place between members of Mapai Si'ah Bet ("Faction B") and 
Hashomer Hazair, on the subject of the Biltmore Conference. ["Mapai Si'ah Bet" was a 
leftish group within the Mapai Party. In 1944, supported by over half the Kibbutz ha- 
Me'uhad movement, it broke away from Mapai and formed the Ahdut ha-Avodah Party.] 
During the course of this discussion, Tabenkin said that he could not agree that it was not just 
or right to hand over Palestine to a Jewish administration, who would implement the 
settlement of the land and encourage Jewish immigration. He was, however, against 
compulsory transfer. This would be harmful since the Jews in Palestine would always be 
among Arabs and a forcible transfer would lead to catastrophe. With regard to a voluntary 
transfer, Tabenkin's views were quite different - "By agreement with the Arabs, yes." He 
however concluded that at present this was not a realistic proposition. (^) 

In a speech delivered a year later, Tabenkin said that the Jews' objective was to gain 
the entire Land of Israel on both sides of the Jordan, without harming the Arabs and their 
rights and without expelling a single Arab, although it might be "possible that by means of 
agreement without any expulsion, the Arabs would deign one of these days to change their 
place of residence and transfer from here to another place." (^) 

The historian Anita Shapira has summarised Tabenkin's views on transfer: "Like Berl 
[Katznelson], Tabenkin welcomed the idea of transfer, so long as one is speaking of voluntary 
transfer." (^) 

However, during the last few years, there has been a concerted attempt to ignore or even 
categorically deny the fact that he ever spoke in favour of transfer! 

In a symposium held in 1987, marking 15 years to the death of Tabenkin, Ze'ev Tzur of 
the Tabenkin Institute gave a lecture on the subject of "Yitzchak Tabenkin and his Attitude 
towards the Arabs". During the course of his lecture, he listed the occasions when Tabenkin 
spoke out against transfer of Arabs. He however omitted the times when he spoke in favour of 
transfer! Tzur even quoted from the meeting in 1943 with Hashomer Hazair, but was very 
selective - only Tabenkin's opposition to compulsory transfer was quoted, but the phrase "By 
agreement with the Arabs, yes", was omitted! (*) 

Also in 1987, Yoshke Rabinowitz, a member of kibbutz Naam, who is regarded as an 
expert on the teachings of Tabenkin, and was one of his pupils, also claimed that Tabenkin 
utterly rejected the transfer of Arabs. He went on to state that in an argument with Berl 
Katznelson, who supported transfer, Tabenkin argued that "we will never obtain Arab 
agreement to transfer, and if there is transfer without their agreement it is expulsion." (^) 

In contrast however, Tabenkin's son Yosef of kibbutz Ein Harod, indirectly, and perhaps 
unconsciously, admitted that his father's opposition to transfer only went as far as transfer of 
a compulsory nature: "I don't know of one instance when my father Yitzchak Tabenkin, 
suggested the idea of compulsory transit" - note the use of the word compulsory. He went on to 
suggest that this idea was in fact first suggested by Berl Katznelson and afterwards by Ben- 
Gurion. (^) 

A few weeks later, another kibbutz member, this time Aryeh Segoli of kibbutz Afak, in 

/ Minutes of Seven Meetings of Mapai Si'ah Bet, 1943, Meeting with Hashomer Hazair on the subject of BUtmore, 
p.4, (Kibbutz ha-Me'uhad Archives 13 bet/1/5). 
^ / Yitzchak Tabenkin, Collected Speeches, vol.iv, 1943 - 1949, (Tel-Aviv, 1976), p.74. 

/ Shapira, op. cit., p.696. 

/ Ze'ev Tzur, "Yitzchak Tabenkin and his Attitude towards the Arabs", Kinnus Tabenkin, (Yad Tabenkin, Efal, 
October 1987), pp.42-43. 

/ "Tabenkin Fought Against the Idea of Transfer", Ma'ariv, (Tel-Aviv), 6 July 1987, p.3. 
^ I Ibid. 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

a letter to the newspaper "Ma'ariv" quoted only Tabenkin's pronouncements on his opposition 
to transfer. (^) 

One should note however that these above statements came from members of kibbutzim 
at the time of the establishment of the Moledet party! What however seems more surprising 
is that the statement that "Tabenkin negated absolutely the idea of transfer" appeared in an 
article by Moshe Ben-Yosef (Hager) in the right— wing paper "Nekudah"!(^) At the time I 
wrote a letter to "Nekudah" pointing out that this statement was simply incorrect. (^) Ben- 
Yosef (Hager) then wrote to me, "The truth is that when I heard Yosef Tabenkin and Ze'ev 
Tzur on the telephone, I did not believe what my ears heard. But I saw myself obligated to 
pass on their exact words in the names of the speakers, since I was not able to refute what they 
had said to me." C) 


Dr. Jacob Thon was the founder and first chairman of the Temporary Council of the Jews 
of Palestine which was established in 1918. At its fifth session, held in Jaffa in June 1919, the 
question of transfer of Arabs from Palestine was raised by Yosef Sprinzak, a leader of Hapoel 
Hazair, who said that "we must receive Palestine without any reduction or restrictions. But 
there is a known quantum of Arabs who live in Palestine and they will receive their due. 
Anyone who wants to work will cultivate his plot. Anyone who does not want to work it, will 
receive compensation and he will seek his fortune in another country." (') 

The words "he will seek his fortune in another country" have been heavily crossed out in 
these minutes. As we can see in various other places in this book, proposals made for the 
transfer of Arabs from Palestine, have often been crossed out or even deleted from minutes, 
letters, etc. In this particular case, the historian Tom Segev comments: "That the full 
implications of this statement were understood by all is indicated by the fact it is crossed out 
in the meeting's minutes." (^) 

Just over a decade later, in the early 1930s, a problem which surfaced was what to do 
with Arab tenants who occupied land which had been acquired by the Zionists for Jewish 
colonisation. In February 1931, Colonel Frederick Kisch, head of the Political Department of 
the Executive of the Zionist Organisation, wrote a confidential letter to a number of 
organisations and individuals in which he put forward a number of plans which had been 
suggested to solve this problem. He asked the recipients of his letter to state which they 
considered to be the best plan. One of these plans was the transfer of Arabs out of Palestine: 
"That land should be acquired in Transjordan for the re-settlement of displaced Arab tenants, 
the necessary political arrangements being made with the Transjordan Government and the 
Mandatory Power." (') 

One of the recipients of this letter was Thon and a few months later he replied to Kisch. 
Thon wrote, "The transfer of Arab cultivators and Arabs in general, to Transjordania, would of 
course, be the most desirable solution from our point of view; but it seems to me that the more 
we make this scheme public as our desideratum, the less probability there is of it being 

He did not think that the Mandatory Government would adopt such a policy since it 
would "create far reaching excitement and agitation among Moslems throughout the world." 
In addition the League of Nations would prevent its implementation. 

' / Aryeh Segoli, Letters to the Editor, Ma'ariv, (Tel-Aviv), 23 July 1987, p.ll 

2 / Moshe Ben-Yosef (Hager), "Thairks to Transfer", Nekudah, (Ofrah), no.l08, 14 April 1987, p.l7. 

3 / Chaim Simons, Letters to the Editor, Nekudah, (Ofrah), no.lll, 30 June 1987, p.4. 
/ Private communication from Moshe Ben-Yosef (Hager), 1 July 1987. 

/ Minutes of the fifth session of the Temporary Council of the Jews of Palestine, 11-13 Sivan 5679 (9-11 June 1919), 
p.l34, (CZAJl/8777). 
^ / Tom Segev. One Palestine Complete, (London, 2000), p.404 fn. 

/ Kisch to various organisations and individuals, 25 Eebruary 1931. 24 Eebruary 1931 (English translation), (CZA 

— 83 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Thon also felt that such transfer would be economically advantageous to the Arabs. 
With the money they received from the sale of their land in Palestine, they would be able to 
purchase land superior in both quality and quantity in Transjordan. He hoped that when a 
more friendly atmosphere prevailed in the area "it will be possible for us to arrange for the 
settlement of Palestinian cultivators in Transjordania quite privately." (^) 

Thon was on the Vaad Leumi presidium but his main activity was as Managing Director 
of the Palestine Land Development Corporation, an office which he held from 1921 until his 
death in 1950. 

He was also a founder member of Brit Shalom, an organisation whose aim was for the 
establishment of a bi-National Jewish-Arab State. In addition he was a member of a 
committee on Jewish-Arab relations, which met in the early 1940s, and included suchmembers 
as Dr. Magnes. Despite all this, Thon would often propose the transfer of Arabs from 

As we shall later see following the publication of the Peel Commission report in 1937, 
Thon was an enthusiastic supporter of Arab transfer from Palestine and an active member of 
the Jewish Agency Population Transfer Committee. 

In August 1942 the members of a Jewish- Arab relations committee, of which Thon was a 
member, wrote a report on future Jewish-Arab relations. Thon's views on, amongst other 
things, the transfer of Arabs from Palestine, could not find expression in this report of the 
committee, and so he submitted a personal memorandum in November of that year. 

After discussing the continual danger the Arabs would pose to a future Jewish State, 
even if they were in the minority, Thon wrote that "a Jewish State would only have value, if 
together with its proclamation by the Deciding Powers, a transfer of the Arab population 
would also be made possible." He however added that such a transfer would have to be by 
agreement with the Arabs. He went on to explain: "One should not suppose that the Peace 
Conference, whose function it would be to make peace between peoples and to recognise the 
natural rights of all peoples, will agree to the removal of the Arabs of Palestine by force." 
Thon did not believe that after the War, there would be place for the Nazis' views on the 
transference of minorities from country to country. He could thus not visualise that in the new 
Europe, tens of millions of people could be uprooted from their homes and lands. [In fact, time 
showed Thon to be wrong! Following the second world war, the Allies did in fact agree to the 
transfer of almost ten million persons in Europe.] Thon was also of the opinion that a 
compulsory transfer of Arabs would result in a strong reaction by influential Diaspora Jews. 

He then went on to discuss transfer from the point of view of the Arabs. On this he 
wrote, "One should not however exclude the fact that also the Arabs will recognise the 
advantages which will accrue to them in their transfer from Palestine to the Arab countries." 
He brought a proof from the transfer of Greeks and how it caused Greece to grow both 
economically and militarily. Similarly, the Arab countries were lacking in population, and 
this would be rectified by an influx of Arabs from Palestine. 

Thon concluded that the Zionist aspirations should thus be for "an agreement with the 
Palestinian Arabs and the neighbouring countries for a transfer of population." He pointed out 
that to achieve this, one needs to make every effort and utilise every outside influence. "Only 
if such an agreement is achieved, will a Jewish State be able to arise in our days." Without 
such an agreement, Thon felt that it would be necessary to continue with the Mandate over 
Palestine and maintain a force which would be strong enough to maintain security. (^) 



Edward Norman, who was an American multimillionaire, financier and philanthropist 
was born in 1900. His grandfather, Emanuel Nusbaum, was a poor Bavarian Jewish immigrant. 

^ / Thon to Kisch, 2 June 1931, (CZA S25/9836). 

2 / Personal memorandum by Dr. J. Thon, 3 November 1942, p.2, (CZA S25/204). 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

who earned his meager hving as the proprietor of a store that supphed goods to peddlers in 
upstate New York during the 1850s. His son Aaron, a brilhant businessman, reversed the 
family fortunes to become a millionaire. In 1919, the family name was "Americanised" from 
Nusbaum to Norman. Aaron had two children, Edward and Ruth, and they were both 
educated in elite private schools in Western Europe. {^) 

Edward Norman was one of the non-Zionist members of the Jewish Agency's Executive 
Council and he urged the foundation of a roof organisation to co-ordinate and funnel American 
Jewish aid for Palestinian educational, cultural and social service institutions. 

Although Norman was a non-Zionist member of the Jewish Agency's Executive Council, 
this certainly does not mean that he was a "non-Zionist". Shertok commented in his diary, 
how he wished that there would be many Zionists like Norman. (^) 

In the early 1930s, Norman conceived the idea of the transfer of Arabs from Palestine, 
and he worked almost consistently on his plan for at least fifteen years. 

In Norman's plan, the destination of the transferred Arabs was to be Iraq. Iraq was 
named Mesopotamia by the ancient Greeks and it was known by this name to the Western 
World until after the Peace Conference at Versailles in 1919. Until the end of the First World 
War, Iraq was part of the Ottoman Empire. It was then given as a Mandated territory to 
Great Britain, who made Feisal its King. In 1932 Britain relinquished its Mandate, and Iraq 
became an independent state. 

In ancient times, the irrigation systems enabled the country to support millions of 
people. However, destruction and neglect of the irrigation works throughout the ages, 
resulted in a considerable decrease in population. During the early part of this century, work 
was done on the restoration of the irrigation system, and whilst Norman was developing his 
plan, the construction of a great dam and diversion canal on the Tigris river was completed. 
This project enabled an enormous area of the Shatt-el-Gharraf region lying between the Tigris 
and Euphrates rivers to be made available for cultivation and settlement. The plan which 
Norman was to put forward was to transfer the Arabs of Palestine to this region of Iraq. (^) 

A lot of information concerning this plan is to be found in various archives throughout 
the world. However, when studying the bibliography at the end of this book, the reader will 
notice that conspicuous by their absence are the "Edward Norman private archives". My 
inquiries to locate such an archives have until very recently drawn a blank. It has however 
just come to my notice that Edward Norman's diary is now in the hands of the historian Dr. 
Rafael Medoff. 

Three Successive Versions of Norman's Plan 

About 1930 Edward Norman "became interested in some solution of the Palestine 
problem" and he spent a great deal of time studying the question. (^) In March 1933 he visited 
Palestine and on 11th of that month wrote a long letter to Israel Benjamin Brodie, an 
American Zionist leader who pioneered industrialisation in Palestine, giving his impressions 
of the country. He was very concerned with the rapidly increasing land prices and added that 
"many Arabs are refusing to sell, and without land the future of the Jews here is limited." (') 
From a later part of his letter, we see that a solution involving the transfer of Arabs to Iraq 
had already crossed his mind: "A properly-managed company might accomplish something 
along lines suggested by a conversation I had with Lord Glenconner, who said that King Feisal 
of Iraq is very anxious to attract Arab farmers to his country, and might with proper people 
arrange to grant a large section of the unused fertile land of his country to be given to Arabs 
from Palestine. .It sounds far-fetched, but so did many things here that now are realities, and I 

^ / Rafael Medoff, Baksheesh Diplomacy, (Lanham,2001), pp. 3-7. 

/ Moshe Shertok, Handwritten Diary entry 4 February 1939, p.45, (CZA S25/198/1) ; Diaries of Sharett, vol.iv, op. 
cit., p. 16. 

/ Edward Norman, An Approach to the Arab Question in Palestine, Second Version, New York City, February 1937, 
section iii para.28, (CZA A246/29). 

/ Memorandum of Conversation, Proposal for settlement of Palestine Problem, 15 November 1938, p.2, (NA 
^ / Norman to Brodie, 11 March 1933, p.6, (CZA A251/17a). 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

think a well-managed non-political company could accomplish something along these lines." 


Further information regarding Norman's thoughts at that time come from the diary of 
Ben-Gurion, following a meeting between the two of them in February 1939. Ben-Gurion wrote 
that Norman had thought to himself following his visit to Palestine, "If the Aliyah will 
increase, then the Arabs will rebel. They will understand that if it will continue for ten years, 
Eretz Israel will be transformed into a Jewish State, and it should not be assumed that they 
[the Arabs] will come to terms with this fact in silence." This led Norman to propose a 
solution to the problem: "Is it not possible to settle the Arabs of Eretz Israel in another 
country?" Norman discounted most of the countries in the region for one reason or another; 
Egypt was already over-populated, Saudi Arabia was a desert and thus unsuitable for 
peasant-farmers, Syria was French. Iraq had the greatest potential. (^) 

It was in February of the following year, that Norman brought out the first version of 
his transfer plan, which was introduced as a "Preliminary Draft". (') 

Norman began his memorandum by discussing the attitude of Zionist Jewry to the inter- 
related subjects of "Jewish immigration into Palestine and Jewish acquisition of the land". He 
considered that "immigration and possession of the land by definition are the bases of the 
reconstruction of the Jewish homeland", and it is thus natural that they should be persued as 
rapidly as possible by all methods. The programme which had been adopted up to that date 
in these fields, namely encouraging both immigration and purchase of land to the maximum, 
had proved its worth and had this not been the case "the homeland project at this date would 
still be largely in the realm of ideas." (*) 

However it had now reached the state where the Arabs of Palestine felt threatened 
and they were reacting accordingly. Norman considered that the British Government's 
"apprehension of the approach of a crisis, unless there is some relaxation of the pressure that 
is bringing it on, is understandable." The obvious solution was to "diminish the pace of the 
growth of the Jewish homeland" and this in fact was the method which the Government had 

Under the terms of the Mandate, the British Government was charged with 
"facilitating close settlement of the Jews on the land" whilst at the same time "protecting the 
civil and religious rights of the previous inhabitants". According to Norman, the Jews were 
not able to understand how they had violated the rights of the Arabs. Land had been 
purchased at fair prices, and employment and living conditions of the "fellahin" (Arab 
peasants) had improved, as a result of Jewish colonisation. However, these fellahin were 
"ignorant to a profound degree" and hence susceptible to the influence of their leaders. In 
addition, for a variety of reasons, Jewish colonisation was not good for the Arab landowners 
and upper ("effendi") class. (') 

Norman considered that in view of the fact that the British Government, whilst 
ignoring the logic, arguments and evidence presented by the Jews to support their case, had 
decided on a policy of "severe reduction in the rate of the development of the Jewish 
homeland", a new method would have to be found to overcome this. The problem had become 
more acute in view of the fact that Hitler had come to power just a year earlier and the Jews 
of Germany were beginning to realise the dangers, and to search for a country willing to accept 
large-scale immigration. 

In analysing the problem, Norman considered that "the manner in which the building of 
the Jewish homeland has been furthered until now is clearly one of taking over Palestine 
without the consent of the indigenous population." He pointed out that even after selling his 
land, an Arab landlord was "not aware of having agreed to take his funds and movable goods 

^ / Ibid., pp.7-8. 

/ David Ben-Gurion, Handwritten Diary entry 3 February 1939, (BGA) ; David Ben-Gurion, Memoirs, vol.6, op. cit., 

/ Edward Norman, An Approach to the Arab Question in Palestine, Preliminary Draft, (First Version), New York 
City, February 1934, (CZA A246/29). 
* / Ibid., pp. 1-2. 
^ / Ibid., pp.2-4. 

— 86 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

and chattels and leave the country" and that it was "hard for him to visualize himself as an 
unwanted figure in the land where he was born and where his people have resided for 
generations." (^) One should mention that Norman is not accurate here: three quarters of the 
Arabs then living in Palestine had immigrated during the previous eighty years, and this 
included a substantial illegal immigration of Arabs. 

Norman argued that "if the Jews gradually are to fill up Palestine, the present Arab 
population must have some place to go. It cannot be exterminated, nor will it die out." As far 
as Norman could ascertain, the Jews had not devised a formula to get Arab consent to 
gradually take over the country, "nor has any plan been propounded for resettling the Arabs 
outside of Palestine." 

He suggested that it had been the tacit hope of the Zionists that as the Jewish 
community and landholdings expanded, the Arab landowners who had sold their land would 
migrate to other Arab countries, and the Arab peasants would also leave to become tenant 
farmers elsewhere. Events had in fact demonstrated little emigration of Arabs from Palestine. 
In fact the opposite was true - during the preceeding ten years Arabs from neighbouring 
countries were being attracted to Palestine by its increasing prosperity. (^) 

In attempting to draw up a new programme to solve this problem, Norman referred to 
the population exchange between Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey which had taken place after 
the First World War. "It was the desire of each of the three governments to rid its country of 
the foreign minorities and to replace them with people of the appropriate national origin. It 
was recognized by the authorities at the Versailles Peace Conference in 1919 that such an 
exchange of populations would be conducive to the maintenance of peace between the three 
countries, which for years had been at odds, and several times at war, in efforts to acquire 
territories inhabited by populations not appropriate to the governments under which they 
were living." The League of Nations thus set up a special commission to supervise this 
exchange of population and to liquidate the real estste they might leave behind. Despite all 
the complications and complexities involved, "upwards of two millions of people have been 
transferred, and the populations of the respective countries are now practically 
homogeneous." (') 

Norman argued that this procedure would not be "applicable in all its details to the 
problem of removing Arabs from Palestine and replacing them with Jews," since the Jews not 
already in Palestine did not possess land on which the Arabs might be resettled. Thus "if 
Arabs are to be induced to leave Palestine, some land must be discovered on which they can be 
placed, an incentive for their agreeing to go must be found and the means must be obtained to 
defray the costs involved." (*) 

He considered that the most suitable country for the transferred Arabs was Iraq. That 
country was "desirous of attracting immigrants, particularly Arabs with agricultural 
experience." The Iraqi Government had repeatedly stated that it would be pleased to see a 
farming population of Arab nationality settled in the great valley between the Tigris and 
Euphrates rivers, where irrigation works were then in the planning stage. However, before 
anything concrete could be accomplished, Norman felt that a "precise program would have to 
be formulated", adequate finance would have to be made available, and only then could 
negotiations begin. 

Norman argued that if the Iraqi Government really desired new immigrants and it was 
assured that they were to be brought in at no cost to Iraq, then the Iraqi Government would 
assist by providing the immigrants with land free of charge. Under such conditions and on the 
right terms, including the provision of free transportation for the transferees together with 
their movable property and livestock, it might be possible "to induce Palestinian Arabs to 
exchange their present holdings for new ones in Iraq", especially if they were to obtain larger 
areas in that country. 

' / Ibid., pp.4-5. 

/ First Version, op. cit., pp.5-6. 
3 / Ibid., p.7. 
* / Ibid., p. 8. 

— 87 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

He pointed out that the transfer of Arabs from Palestine to Iraq "would not be a removal 
to a foreign country.... The boundaries that have been instituted since the [First World] War 
are scarcely known to most of the Arabs. The language customs, and religion are the same." {^) 

From where would the finance for such a plan come? Norman said that the answer to 
this lay in the fact that Jews all over Europe wanted land in Palestine. Hence land bought 
from Arabs leaving Palestine could be resold to Jews. He then presented an estimated budget 
for resettling Arabs in Iraq. 

Norman considered that were the Jews to "succeed in acquiring a major part of Palestine 
a large number of Arabs perforce will have to leave the country and find homes elsewhere." 
He was worried that if the Arabs were to be "forced out inexorably as the result of Jewish 
pressure" they would leave with ill-will and there would be emnity towards the Jews for 
generations, and the rest of the world might come to sympathise with the Arabs. (^) As we 
have seen, nearly forty years earlier when Herzl put forward his proposal for the removal of 
non-Jews out of his proposed Jewish State, he followed it by the comment, "At first, 
incidentally, people will avoid us. We are in bad odor." Herzl however concluded that this 
"bad odor" would only be a transient phenomenon. 

In concluding this section of his memorandum, Norman wrote, "The proposed plan should 
not seem so fanciful and should merit serious consideration. The creation of a new nation 
requires broad vision." (') 

In order to implement his plan, Norman listed a number of distinct stages. Firstly, the 
abstract principles would have to be fully discussed "on a strictly confidential basis" by 
influential people who were "familiar with Palestine conditions". At the same time indirect 
enquiries - casual conversations and study of published material - would be made to ascertain 
how serious the Kingdom of Iraq was for an increase in its population, and what its 
contribution would be to achieve this objective. (*) 

If, as a result of these enquiries, it was concluded that the scheme contained merit, an 
association or syndicate would have to be formed in order to investigate the economic 
possibilities. Such an investigation, which would have to be undertaken by experts, would 
have to determine which lands the Iraqi Government might have available, their potential 
productivity and the financial aspects of resettlement. If the plan was then found to be 
economically feasible, some sort of company would be set up in order to deal with the 
monetary side. The directors of such an organisation would have to be "largely people of a 
character to inspire the highest confidence from all parties"; Jews from the Diaspora and 
Palestine; British, Iraqi, and Palestinian Government officials; and all classes of Palestine 
Arabs. Norman considered that it might be advisable to secure certain prominent Palestinian 
Arabs as directors. (^) 

Representatives of this organisation would then enter into highly secret negotiations 
with the British Colonial Office "with a view to obtaining the consent of the British 
Government to the carrying out of the scheme and its assurances that no obstacles of any kind 
would be interposed by the Administration in Palestine." Negotiations would also have to be 
entered into with the Iraqi Government regarding making its land available, building the 
necessary irrigation works, and performing all the legal formalities. (^) 

If the negotiations with the British and Iraqis were successful, then "arrangements 
would have to made in Palestine for transporting the Palestinian Arabs who might consent to 
go to Iraq." The next stage would be negotiations with Arab landowners in Palestine. Norman 
considered that at first, all dealings should be for the purchase of Arab lands situated in the 
coastal plain, which were suitable for the growing of citrus fruit. Afterwards, hill and valley 

1 / Ibid., pp.8-10. 

2 / Ibid., pp.10-12. 

3 / Ibid., p.l2. 
* / Ibid., p.l3. 

^ / Ibid., pp.14-15. 
^ I Ibid., pp. 15-16. 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

lands could be purchased, (i) 

Arrangements would then be made with the banks in Palestine to finance the Jewish 
purchase of the land obtained from the Arabs. Norman then went briefly into technical points 
regarding the finance. He also pointed out that the company would need a staff in Palestine to 
negotiate with the landowners, assist the Arabs to depart and to handle the reselling of the 
land to the Jews. It would also need a staff in Iraq to handle resettling of the Arabs from 
Palestine. (^) 

Norman concluded his draft report by pointing out that it was "only in tentative form" 
and was put forward as a "basis for discussion of a possibly practical method of dealing with 
the gravest question facing the development of the Jewish homeland." (') 

In the course of the following two years, the situation of Germany's Jews considerably 
worsened, and as a consequence, the high rate of Jewish immigration into Palestine not only 
continued but in fact increased. The Arabs as a result declared a general strike which lasted 
about six months, the purpose of the strike being to induce the British Government to forbid 
further Jewish immigration and purchase of land. This strike was accompanied by the 
massacre of many Jews. These factors caused the British to establish a Royal Commission (the 
Peel Commission) to investigate the Palestine question. 

In February 1937, Norman brought out the second version of his plan, in which he 
referred to these events, and he warned that the local administration officials in Palestine 
might recommend to this Commission the severe curtailing of Jewish immigration. This would 
be a serious blow to the Jews of Central and Eastern Europe who urgently needed to find 
asylum. The gates of the countries of the world were closed to them and the only country in the 
entire world that had been able to absorb any quantity of the Jews was Palestine. 

Norman argued that the attitude of the Arabs proved conclusively that "some new 
policy with regard to them must be formulated and pursued" otherwise further substantial 
immigration and purchase of land would "make the maintenance of peace and security 
impossible without the use of overwhelming force on the part of the British." He went on to 
show that the British, for a variety of reasons, would be unwilling to use force to preserve 
order and to make possible the settlement of a large number of Jews. Thus it would "not be 
possible to settle them there unless a peaceful means can be found or created to prevent the 
Arabs from objecting forcibly to such settlement." 

Norman considered that neither the Jewish Agency nor the Zionist Organisation had 
"suggested any concrete, realistic policy for dealing with the Arab attitude other than to 
increase the Jewish population in order that it might reach a majority position as soon as 
possible." He then stated that "an entirely new approach is required" to this question. (^) 

As in his first version, Norman again wrote about the fears for the future by the Arabs as 
the result of Jewish immigration, and the influence that the effendis had on the fellahin. He 
now went on to point out the "almost complete lack of a sense of social responsibility" of the 
effendis. They had no concept that when they sell land, "they are selling their country". 
They also did not realise that after they had sold their land their status in the country will 
have been altered; they would consequently lose their power and thus bear a "strong 
resentment toward the Jews." 

In answer to this, the Jews had claimed that they had no intention of dominating the 
Arabs. Norman however held that this reply was "either an inconsistent disregard of facts or 
deliberate disingeneousness", since: the Jews speak of Palestine as "Eretz Israel"; they 
continually give evidence of their desire to reconstruct the Jewish national existence in 
Palestine; they insist on the employment of Jews and patronising of Jewish enterprises by Jews; 
and there is a large number of oppresed Jews in Europe whose only haven is Palestine. Norman 
answered that these Jewish aspirations and methods could not be criticised "in view of all 
that the Jews have suffered for over eighteen centuries as minority elements in many foreign 

1 / Ibid., pp.16-17. 

2 / Ibid., p. 17. 

3 / Ibid., p.l8. 

/ Second Version, op. cit., section i - The General Situation. 

— 89 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

lands, and it is but natural that they should long for a home of their own where they can be 
their own masters and live their lives in peace and freedom in their own way." 

In view of the conflicting attitudes between Jew and Arab, Norman concluded that it was 
"useless and futile to expect peace and cooperation on any common grounds between the Arabs 
and the Jews in Palestine." There were therefore two alternatives, the first being "strife and 
disorder" and the second that "one or the other of the two parties must abandon Palestine." 
He immediately dismissed the first possibility as disastrous for the future of the Jews in 
Palestine. With regard to the second possibility, Norman wrote that since there was no 
alternative to Palestine for the Jews and since they could not have the land whilst more than 
800,000 Arabs lived there "the Arabs must be induced to give it up and a considerable portion 
of them to move elsewhere." {^) 

As in his first version, Norman quoted various precedents for the transfer of population, 
and he now explained in much greater detail why he considered Iraq to be the obvious 
destination for the Arabs who were to be transferred from Palestine. (^) 

Norman wrote in his second version of two indications "that the idea of the removal of 
the Arabs from Palestine would not be received in official British circles as unthinkable." (^) 
The first was a letter written by the London University lecturer, Edwyn Bevan to "The Times" 
in September 1936, proposing such a transfer to Iraq, and the second was a London despatch 
published in "The New York Times" in October 1936, from its staff correspondent, Ferdinand 
Kuhn, Jr. In this despatch, Kuhn asked how the British could on the one hand satisfy the 
Arabs without betraying the Jews, and on the other hand maintain a Jewish National Home 
without condemning the Arabs to be a subject race. Answering his own question, Kuhn wrote 
that the rivalry between Arab and Jew in Palestine could be ended "perhaps by a large scale 
transfer of the population, perhaps by a legislative council or some other scheme". (*) In fact, 
a few months later, Norman's "indications" were shown to be true indicators of Establishment 
policy, when the Peel Commission's Report proposed such a population transfer, compulsory if 

Norman also brought a proof from the words of Menachem Ussishkin, President of the 
Actions Committee of the World Zionist Organisation, to show that the idea of transfer of 
Arabs from Palestine, "is not regarded by the Zionists as contrary to their policies". (^) In fact 
we know from sources presumably not seen by Norman, and also from documents which have 
now been declassified - dating from both before and after Norman's second memorandum - that 
Zionist leaders including Herzl, Ben-Gurion and Weizmann, made even more enthusiastic 
statements in favour of transfer. 

In the third version of his plan, brought out in January 1938, in a much more concise form 
than the earlier two versions, Norman began by pointing out that up to then, attempts to solve 
the Palestine problem had been on political lines and were based on considerations involving 
Palestine alone. Norman completely disagreed with this approach, since he considered that 
the problem was economic in the sense that Jewish settlement in Palestine had given rise to 
the Arab population's fearing for its economic future. He felt that attempts to solve the 
problem by political means would emphasise the points of difference, whereas an economic 
solution would bring out the points of unity between Jew and Arab. ('' ) 

Norman went on to stress the advantages that would accrue to the Arabs as a result of 
his plan. He explained that they made a very poor livelihood as the land cultivated by 
them was hilly, poor and dry, and wholly unsuited to extensive agriculture. Furthermore, 
most of the land tilled by the Arabs was owned by absentee landlords who had no hesitation 
in exploiting their tenants. Therefore, these Arabs would gain tremendously were they to be 

/ Ibid., section ii - The Situation in Palestine. 

/ Ibid., section iii - Iraq. 
3 / Ibid., fn.50. 

/ Ferdinand Kuhn, Jr., "Britain Applying Force upon Arabs", The New York Times, 4 October 1936, p.E5. 

/ Second Version, op. cit., fn.51. 

/ Edward Norman, An Approach to the Arab Question in Palestine, Third Version, New York City, January 1938, 
section i - General, (PRO CO 733/333 75156/35). 

— 90 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

resettled on land elsewhere better suited to extensive agriculture, which they could hope to 
own in due course. This would also enable the landlords to sell their lands to Jews, which 
Norman claimed they had consistently shown themselves anxious to do, without being 
criticised that they were rendering their tenants homeless. Furthermore "such a resettlement 
of the Arab peasants outside of Palestine would enable the Administration to permit Jewish 
immigration on the basis of economic absorptive capacity" without objections from the Arabs 
that their livelihoods were being threatened, (i) 

In addition to the reasons given in his first version for Iraq to be the best destination for 
the Arab transferees, Norman, in his subsequent versions, wrote about the recently completed 
dams in Iraq which had made enormous areas available for cultivation. However, the 
indigenous population of Iraq could not provide sufficient numbers of new settlers for the new 
areas opened up by these new dams and the only Arab people who could be induced to settle 
there were the peasants of Palestine. (^) 

The first version only speaks in general terms of "experts" who would be utilised to 
obtain an accurate estimate of the total cost of the plan. However, in his second version he 
wrote that they would come from the staff of the Palestine Jewish Colonisation Association. 
This organisation had for over half a century conducted large scale colonisation work in 
Palestine and was thus highly experienced in the field. (^) In his final version, Norman also 
included staff members from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which had 
done extensive colonisation work of Jews in certain areas of Russia. (^) 

He also noted in his second and third versions, that Jewish organisations would have to 
purchase the land in Palestine immediately upon being vacated by the emigrating Arabs. (') 
In his second version, Norman listed no fewer than sixteen Jewish financial agents to be 
approached for this purpose. (^) 

In his first version, Norman did not consider the rate of transfer of Arabs, neither did he 
suggest performing a pilot plan. However, by the time he came to write the second version, he 
became more pragmatic. With regard to the rate of transfer, Norman wrote that his plan did 
not contemplate "the sudden and immediate moving of many thousands of Palestinian Arabs." 
He felt certain that at first no large number would be persuaded to move. The methodology he 
thus suggested in his second version was that initially one would have to find "one landlord 
who could be made to see the material advantage to himself of exchanging his not very 
productive land in Palestine ... for a larger and more productive property in a developing 
country." (') In his final version, however, the emphasis was on the advantages to the tenant 
instead of the landlord, and he suggested finding "a very few villages that might be 
interested in improving their economic position by migrating to Iraq" and in their new country, 
instead of being "debt-ridden tenants" would be "freehold independent landowners." (*) In 
order not to destroy the "social organization of Arab peasant life", Norman proposed that 
whole villages be transferred intact with, (in the second version), the mukhtars remaining at 
the heads of their respective villages. He felt that "it would be sufficient in the first year to 
move not more than a dozen villages, involving only from three to five thousand Arabs." If 
this was successful and good reports came back to Palestine, the work could then be 
considerably accelerated so that "eventually perhaps fifty thousand Arabs a year could be 
moved to Iraq." To ensure the success of this plan, "trained instructors, preferably Arabs, 
would have to be employed to supervise the new villages in Iraq for at least one year each." 

At the same time, an educational campaign would be carried out amongst the Arabs in 
Palestine in order to point out the advantages of living in Iraq "as compared to the difficult 
soil of Palestine." 

/ Ibid., section ii - Palestine. 

/ Ibid., section iii - Iraq. 

/ Second Version, op. cit., section iv para.7. 

/ Third Version, op. cit., section iv para.7. 

/ Second Version, op. cit., section v para.lO ; Third Version, op. cit., section iv para.lO. 

/ Second Version, op. cit., section v para.l2. 

/ Ibid., section iv para. 11. 

/ Third Version, op. cit., section iv para.ll. 

— 91 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Norman hoped that, "Perhaps a widespread desire to go to Iraq as their true national 
home could be inculcated among the Palestine Arabs, similar to the emotional desire among 
the Jews of Eastern Europe to dwell in Palestine as their national home." {^) 

The details for the plan's implementation are similarly structured in all three versions. 
However, there are some differences between the various versions (especially between the 
first and the subsequent versions), which we shall now point out: 

The second and third versions were written far more professionally than the first 
version, and are followed by extensive footnotes and references. 

The first version had envisaged that indirect enquiries would be made to determine 
whether Iraq would be willing to accept Arabs from Palestine. However, in his final version, 
Norman proposed a more direct albeit cautious approach. "Someone especially experienced in 
diplomacy, tact, and Arab and Iraqian affairs would have to proceed to Baghdad to discuss 
the matter with the Government officials, and also perhaps with the King." He suggested 
that at first the matter should be discussed in the general terms of the economy and 
development of the country, and if the Iraqis showed they were aware that their greatest 
economic problem was underpopulation, it could be suggested to them that "if they took the 
proper steps they might be able to attract to their country over a period of time a considerable 
proportion of the fellachin of Palestine." (^) 

Norman had proposed in his first version that the monetary side of his plan be covered 
by Jews, Arabs, British and Iraqis, without specifying details of who did what. In the final 
version however, he decided that it would be the responsibility of the Iraqis to arrange the 
finance and resettlement of the Arabs in Iraq, by means of forming a special mortgage bank. 
"Jewish interests" would have to form a company whose objects would be "to buy and make 
immediate payment for the land that might be vacated by emigrating peasants in Palestine." 


In all his versions, Norman wrote that an agreement would have to be made with the 
British which would "ensure that no administrative obstacles would be interposed to the 
carrying out of the scheme". However, in the second and third versions he added that this 
agreement would also contain the condition that Arab immigration into Palestine be 
completely stopped in order to prevent Arabs from the neighbouring countries entering 
Palestine "to replace those who had gone to Iraq" and hence perpetuate the problem which 
this plan was supposed to help solve. On this latter point, Norman pointed out that under the 
terms of the Palestine Mandate, Arab immigration to Palestine "need not be permitted." 
Norman was obviously referring to Article 6 which spoke of facilitating Jewish immigration 
into Palestine. 

Amongst the reasons advanced by Norman for entering into such an agreement with the 
British were: preservation of the prestige of Britain, non-capitulation to Arab riots and civil 
disobedience, and "that no other solution to the Palestine dilemma possibly can be proposed 
without arousing the antagonism of either the Arabs or the Jews." (*) 

Some additional points were incorporated into the second version, which did not appear 
either in the first or last versions: Before negotiations could begin, it would be necessary "to 
obtain material support for it [the plan] from a substantial group of responsible Jews." (^) 
There would have to be a provision for an agreement binding the Jewish Agency and the 
Zionist Organisation not to "interfere with the execution of the plan ... except when 
specifically requested to do so", the object of this being "to prevent the plan from becoming 
involved in all sorts of political controversies that surely would render its execution 
impossible." (^) 

In his last version, Norman specifically wrote that the Iraqi Government would invite 

/ Second Version, op. cit., section iv para.11-16 ; Third Version, op. cit., section iv para.11-16. 

/ Third Version, op. cit., section v para.2. 
^ / Ibid., para.5-6. 

/ Second Version, op. cit., section v para.13-15; Third Version, op. cit., section v para.8-10. 

/ Second Version, section v para.l. 
^ / Ibid., para.4-5. 

— 92 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

the peasants of Palestine to settle in Iraq. He pointed out that this would be the most difficult 
stage and "on its success the validity of the whole plan depends." Intelligence and tact by the 
Iraqi Government would be crucial here. (^) 

He concluded this section with the suggestion that the procedure outlined in his plan 
could be "kept up for some twenty— five or thirty years, or until there was no more desire on 
the part of Arabs in Palestine to go to Iraq." (^) 

Norman finished both his second and third versions with an almost identically worded 
"Conclusion". In it, he was realistic and perceived that his plan was "immense in scope", that 
there was a "vast number of obstacles in the way of carrying [it] out" and that an enormous 
amount of energy would be required. He felt that the only way to ascertain whether the 
difficulties were insurmountable was to make an effort to overcome them. 

"Only two things are necessary before commencing to make the attempt: 

(1) a decision that the objective is worth-while, and 

(2) a resolution to proceed vigorously." (^) 

Although Norman brought out the first version of his plan in 1934, he did not take steps 
to promote it until after he brought out his second version in 1937. Medoff suggests that the 
reason for this was that during these years Norman was "preoccupied by his own financial 
concerns during the early years of the Great Depression, and mollified by the cessation of 
Palestinian Arab violence in the years following the 1929 outbreaks" so that he "temporarily 
put his Iraq scheme on the back burner." (^) However, unlike many proposers of transfer, who 
just put forward details of a plan, but did nothing towards their implementation, Norman, as 
we shall now see, was true to his ideas. 

Early Meetings 

In the latter part of the summer of 1937, Norman began to fully apply himself to the 
task of implementing his plan. He began by submitting the second version of his memorandum, 
to a "number of leading personages in the United States." According to him they all in 
principle approved it. (') 

In a report, Norman pointed out that in particular, there were two matters not covered in 
his memorandum, about which he could not obtain information without contacting leading 
people in Iraq. Firstly, why the Iraqi Government had undertaken to invest large sums of 
money to construct dams and irrigation works whilst their present population did not merit 
such investment, and secondly, whether they would be interested in a substantial immigration 
of Arab cultivators to settle on the land made cultivable by this construction work. (^) 

With this end in mind, Norman wrote to Sir Robert Waley Cohen on 13 October 1937. 
[Sir Robert Waley Cohen was a British industrialist and Jewish communal leader who rose to 
high office in the Anglo-Jewish community. Although basically opposed to political Zionism, 
he contributed to the economic development of Palestine as chairman of the Economic Board 
for Palestine.] 

Norman enclosed a copy of his paper to Waley Cohen - presumably the second edition of 
his transfer plan - and commented that Felix Warburg had "expressed considerable interest in 
it" and that Warburg "feels that the first step in proceeding to see what can be done with my 
plan is to find out what is the intention of the Iraqian government with regard to colonization 
of the area that will become cultivable as the result of the completion of the dam on the 
Tigris mentioned in my paper." Norman informed Waley Cohen that at that time there was 
in Paris an American lawyer employed by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee 
by the name of Nathan Katz and both Warburg and Norman had both written to him asking 
him to proceed to London to find out what he could on this matter. Norman added that he had 

/ Third Version, op. cit., section v para.11-12. 

/ Ibid., para.15. 

/ Second Version, op. cit., section vi ; Third Version, op. cit., section vi. 

/ Medoff, thesis, pp.158-59. 

/ Edward Norman, First Report on Iraq Scheme, 5 May 1938, p.l, (PRO CO 733/413 75906). 

/ Ibid. 

— 93 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

suggested to Waley Cohen that "it might be worthwhile for him [Katz] to get in touch with 
you, in case he needs help or advice." {^) 

On the same day, Norman wrote to Warburg, enclosing a letter for Katz and also the 
draft of a letter that Warburg might write to Katz. Norman requested that if this draft seems 
satisfactory to Warburg, the latter should write a covering note and have the two letters 
mailed together to Katz. Norman also enclosed a copy of the letter he had written to Waley 
Cohen. (2) 

Indeed, a few days later, Warburg wrote to Katz enclosing a letter (untraced) from 
Norman and informed him that he was "most desirous of obtaining the information that Mr. 
Norman mentions in his letter" and he asked him "to do all possible to obtain it." (') 

However, a few days later, Norman had second thoughts on bringing in Katz. He felt 
that as soon as the Iraqis get to know that Jews were behind this, the whole transfer plan 
could come to naught. He considered that a better approach would be to show that the "whole 
plan is for the benefit of Iraq and that the first moves in connection with it should come from 
the Iraqians." Norman felt that Edwyn Bevan, a non-Jewish professor, who had in the 
previous year written a letter to "The Times" of London on the transfer of Arabs from Palestine 
to Iraq should be approached to contact the Iraqis to point out the advantages of this plan. If 
Bevan succeeded then "the whole scheme would come before the world as emanating from 
Iraq, for the advantage of Iraq, and we would then be saved any possibility of being accused of 
plotting the deportation of the Palestine Arabs." Also, using this approach would make the 
British Colonial Office receive it more favourably. (*) 

Likewise, in his report, Norman wrote that under the conditions then prevailing in the 
Near East, a Jew traveling to Iraq would have been suspect and would have probably aroused 
antagonism. It was therefore essential for this information to be verified by a non-Jew who 
would be persona grate to the Iraqis. (^) 

Norman thus felt that Katz was not the person to speak to the Iraqis and he thus cabled 
to Katz: "Disregard letters Warburg Norman." Norman hoped that Warburg would "not be 
displeased" with using his name in this telegram. If, however, Warburg still felt that Katz 
was the right man, he could still instruct him to go to London. Indeed, before cabling Katz, 
Norman had for two days tried to contact Warburg but without success. (^) The reason for his 
being unable to make contact with Warburg became known to the world very soon after. 
Warburg had had a heart attack and on 20 October he died. Norman thus lost an important 
ally to advance his plan. 

For nearly two months prior to Warburg's death, Norman had been trying to interest 
Warburg in his plan. On 6 September, Norman had written to him saying that "there are 
several matters that I feel a need of talking over with you, and I wonder if I could have the 
privilege of some of your time in the not distant future." (') Norman did not specify which 
matters but it almost certainly included his transfer plan. 

On the following day, he again wrote to Warburg informing him that for some years he 
had "been working on a fundamental plan to deal with the Arab problem in a basic way." He 
pointed out that he had recently given James Rosenberg, a member of the Joint Distribution 
Committee, a copy of it and that he just received word from Rosenberg that he should 
immediately furnish Warburg with a copy, which he did. He added that should they meet in 
the near future, as he [Norman] had requested they could "talk about it a little." (*) 

On receiving his first letter, Warburg agreed to a meeting on 13 September. (') and when 

/ Norman to Waley Cohen, 13 October 1937, (American Jewish Archives, Felix Warburg papers. Box 341 Folder 4). 

/ Norman to Warburg, 13 October 1937, (American Jewish Archives, Felix Warburg papers. Box 341 Folder 4). 

/ Warburg to Katz (Draft letter), 13(?) October 1937, (American Jewish Archives, Felix Warburg papers. Box 341 
Folder 4). 

/ Norman to Warburg, 19 October 1937, (American Jewish Archives, Felix Warburg papers. Box 341 Folder 4). 

/ First Norman Report, op. cit., p.l. 
^ / Norman to Warburg, 19 October 1937, op. cit. 

/ Norman to Warburg, 6 September 1937, (American Jewish Archives, Felix Warburg papers. Box 341 Folder 4). 

/ Norman to Warburg, 7 September 1937, (American Jewish Archives, Felix Warburg papers. Box 341 Folder 4). 

/ Emanuel to Norman, 7 September 1937, (American Jewish Archives, Felix Warburg papers. Box 341 Folder 4); 

— 94 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

he received his second letter answered that he would "be glad to discuss this [the Arab 
problem] with you when next we meet." {^) 

Following their meeting, Warburg discussed Norman's plan with a few other people and 
requested that Norman's secretary send him an extra copy. (^) Warburg's actions went beyond 
just a polite interest. Ronald Venables Vernon, (he had just retired after thirty-seven years in 
Colonial Office service), who met with Norman at the end of 1937, understood that the plan 
"was worked out largely in conjunction with the late Felix Warburg." (') Whether or not, 
Vernon's comments are an exaggeration, we do know that when Norman submitted his plan to 
Warburg, the latter "was so enthusiastic in his approval that he offered to put into it $10.00 
for every $1.00 which Mr. Norman would invest." Warburg however "felt that the plan 
should be further revised and perfected". (^) 

About a couple of weeks later Warburg sent Norman an "interesting letter" on the subject 
of Iraq which he had just received from Jonah Wise, the National Chairman of the Joint 
Distribution Committee. (') Wise suggested "that when the time comes for a check-up on the 
facts concerning Iraq," Warburg or Norman should consult with Professor Nelson Glueck, 
Director of the American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem. (^) On 7 October, Warburg 
wrote to Norman informing him that he had written to Glueck, asking "his reaction on the 
possibilities in Irak (sic) and Trans-Jordania" (') - presumably on the feasibility of using 
these as resettlement sites for the Arabs who would be transferred from Palestine. 

Amongst the Warburg papers are several memoranda(^) giving the population, land 
area, cultivable or otherwise, of Iraq, Transjordan and Palestine. One of these memoranda is 
dated 24 September 1937 and has typed at the bottom "taken over the telephone from 
a.h.Katz." Medoff explains this footnote that Warburg had asked his agent in Europe, 
Nathan Katz "to supply data on the potential for settling in Transjordan and Iraq. Katz 
called back with the information on September 24, dictating the details to Warburg's 
secretary over the telephone." (') 

On 26 September 1937, Lewis Andrews, Governor of the Galilee District,, was murdered 
by the Arabs. The British immediately took strong measures against the Arabs of Palestine 
which included declaring the Arab Higher Committee an illegal association and deporting 
some of its members, deposing the Mufti of Jerusalem as head of Palestine's Moslem Supreme 
Council and the imprisonment of a number of Arabs. Norman immediately telegraphed 
Warburg: "Yesterdays events in Palestine seem to indicate perhaps British Government has 
been driven to point of being ready for some fundamental solution of country's problem. It may 
be that this attitude will not last very long and it occurs to me that it probably presents a 
uniquely favourable moment for presenting Iraq scheme to Ormsby Gore [the British Colonial 
Secretary] and others." He added that if he had an "assurance of adequate financial backing" 
he would immediately go to London and with the help of Waley Cohen discuss the plan with 
the British Government. {^^) On the same day Norman and Warburg discussed this subject 

A few days later Norman wrote to Warburg asking "whether or not the time had now 
arrived for me to proceed to England to discuss with the British government officials the plan 
I have outlined for a gradual transference of Palestinian Arabs to Iraq." In his report, Norman 
wrote that a number of those who read his memorandum, "among them the late Mr. Felix M. 

Norman to Emanuel, 8 September 1937, (American Jewish Arctiives, Felix Warburg papers. Box 341 Folder 4). 

/ Warburg to Norman, 10 September 1937, (American Jewish Archives, Felix Warburg papers. Box 341 Folder 4). 

/ Emanuel to Norman, 23 September 1937, (American Jewish Archives, Felix Warburg papers. Box 341 Folder 4). 
3 / Vernon to Shuckburgh, 20 December 1937, (PRO CO 733/333 75156/35). 

/ Memorandum of Conversation, 16 November 1938, op. cit., p.2. 

/ Warburg to Norman, 1 October 1937, (American Jewish Archives, Felix Warburg papers. Box 341 Folder 4). 

/ Medoff, Baksheesh Diplomacy, op. cit., p. 108. 

/ Warburg to Norman, 7 October 1937, (American Jewish Archives, Felix Warburg papers. Box 341 Folder 4). 

/ Various memoranda, one of them dated 24 September 1937, others undated, (American Jewish Archives, Felix 
Warburg papers. Box 341 Folder 7). 

/ Medoff, Baksheesh Diplomacy, op. cit., p. 109. 
/ Telegram, Norman to Warburg, 2 October 1937, (American Jewish Archives, Felix Warburg papers. Box 341 Folder 

— 95 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Warburg," the Jewish banker, encouraged him to go to England in order to find someone who 
could obtain this information, (i) 

In his letter, Norman went on to distinguish between a "plan" and a "proposal". For a 
plan to become a proposal "the intention and ability must have evidence of concrete 
substantiation." He felt that if he proceeded to England solely on his own initiative, he 
would "fail to win the cooperation of Jewish interests, non-Zionist as well as Zionist." To 
succeed would require substantial support from British Jewry. Norman also realised that he 
was, in his own words, "an unknown young man from a foreign country" whereas Warburg was a 
well known public figure in the Jewish world and with the authorities in London; hence the 
participation of Warburg in Norman's plan could spell the difference between success and 
failure. (^) 

On the financial side, very large capital would be required to carry out such a plan, up to 
one million dollars just in the initial stage. Warburg also had plenty of money. However, at 
this stage, people would not be prepared to "write a blank cheque." Norman's solution to this 
problem was that "a syndicate or trusteeship be created, with yourself [Warburg] and two 
others who command confidence." The subscribed money would not be spent "until all 
arrangements with the Zionists, the British, the Iraqians, and finally some Palestinian 
Arabs willing to migrate, had been completed to the satisfaction of the trustees and until the 
further financing had been arranged." When one had reached the stage for the 
"commencement of actual population transfer operations" the money would be handed over to 
a corporation. Investors would first be sought from New York, and then from the rest of the 
United States, Britain, France and elsewhere. (^) Norman enclosed a "Tentative Draft" for an 
"Iraq Development Syndicate Subscription Agreement" which he himself had drawn up. (*) 
However, as we have already seen, two weeks later Warburg was dead and thus nothing 
seems to have come from this Syndicate plan. 

On 12 November 1937, Norman wrote to Israel Benjamin Brodie, "It looks very much as 
though I will be leaving very shortly for London in connection with the Iraq plan." He went on 
to say that Sir Robert Waley Cohen was endeavouring to make some very important 
appointments for him and should he hear within the next few days that they had been made, 
he would leave for London within a fortnight. (^) 

At that period, Norman had a chance meeting with Benjamin Akzin, at which Akzin 
recommended to Norman not to allow his [Norman's] "identity and connections to be revealed 
to the Iraqians or Palestinian Arabs if possible, as then the scheme would come to them as a 
Jewish one, possibly a nefarious plot." He also urged Norman to find a non-Jewish go-between 
who would investigate this matter and also carry out the negotiations with the Iraqis. (^) 

We know about this meeting with Akzin from a diary entry made by Norman a few 
weeks later. It was between 22 November and 2 December 1937 that Norman kept a diary of 
his meetings in which he discussed his Iraq plan with various people. 

Numerous attempts have been made by the author to obtain a copy of this diary, but as 
yet, have been unsuccessful. However, extracts from this diary and a photocopy of one of its 
pages are to be found in a book by Rafael Medoff. C) From this book, we see that the page 
numbers in his diary are the odd numbers from 1 to 17. It would thus seem that Norman used 
just one side of each page in a numbered notebook. 

From Medoff's book, it is possible to reconstruct the contents of Norman's diary. His 
meetings were thus as follows: 

page 1: 22 November, New York, Professor Ephraim Speiser. 

/ First Norman Report, op. cit., p.l. 

/ Norman to Warburg, 6 October 1937, pp. 1-2, (American Jewish Archives, Felix Warburg papers. Box 341 Folder 4). 
3 / Ibid., pp.2-4. 

/ Tentative Draft, Iraq Development Syndicate Subscription Agreement, (American Jewish Archives, Felix Warburg 
papers. Box 341 Folder 4). 
^ / Norman to Brodie, 12 November 1937, (CZA A251/17a). 

/ Medoff, Baksheesh Diplomacy, op. cit., p. 112. 
^ Ibid., 9th page between pp.105-06, p.ll2, pp.114-18, pp. 128-30. 

— 96 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

page 3: 22 November, New York, Professor Ephraim Speiser. 

page 5: 26 November, on board "Normandie," Otto Schiff; 27 November, on board 
"Normandie," Benjamin Akzin. 

page 7: 27 November, on board "Normandie," Benjamin Akzin. 

page 9: 27 November, on board "Normandie," Benjamin Akzin; 29 November, London, 
Walter S. Cohen. 

page 11: 29 November, London, Walter S. Cohen; 30 November / 1 December, London, 
Walter S. Cohen. 

page 13: 30 November / 1 December, London, Walter S. Cohen; 2 December, London, Sir 
Robert Waley Cohen. 

page 15: 2 December, London, Sir Robert Waley Cohen; 2 December, London, Vladimir 

page 17: 2 December, London, Vladimir Jabotinsky. 

Let us now look at details of these meetings: 

On 22 November, Norman had a luncheon meeting in New York with Ephraim Speiser, 
Professor of Semitic and Oriental Languages at the University of Pennsylvania. Having 
worked at the American School of Oriental Research in Baghdad and having "had to deal 
with the government officials in various departments," Speiser was considered an expert on 
Iraq, and Norman realised the importance of being well informed about the different aspects 
of that country. 

Norman gained a lot at this meeting. For example, based on "the various reports" he 
had read, he envisioned that the area he had designated for the Arab transferees was 
"excessively dry." In fact, it was very swampy and as a result, Speiser and his party "had to 
use rowboats to cross numerous ponds." Speiser also pointed out the "very difficult, though not 
necessarily impossible" task of obtaining the agreement of the Iraqi government. Since Iraq 
had aligned itself with the struggle of the Arabs of Palestine against Britain and the 
Zionists, its leaders "probably would not want their country to appear to assist the Jews in 
increasing their hold over Palestine." 

Another problem raised by Speiser and which Norman had not anticipated was that 
the "wealthy and influential" Jews of Iraq would oppose Norman's plan fearing that the 
Iraqi government might transfer them to Palestine, something which these Jews did not want. 
They might have even made it conditional on the transfer of Arabs from Palestine. 

Speiser also commented that since the Iraqi leaders were Kurds, they "might not want 
to see the Arab population of the country substantially increased," and that the Iraqi regime 
could not be considered stable. 

Although Speiser was willing to help Norman, he did not intend returning to Iraq. 
Norman summed up Speiser as "a profound, whole-souled person of great intelligence, & 
decisive." O 

Two days later, Norman left the U.S.A. for Britain, on board the "Normandie." (^)On 
board the ship was Otto Schiff, the British financier who was first cousin to Felix Warburg's 
widow. On 26 November, Norman discussed his plan with him. In his diary he wrote that it 
was not new to Schiff since "he had heard it and me discussed in a meeting of Felix Warburg's 
associates in the Jewish Agency for Palestine at Mrs. Warburg's on November 15. He knew too 
little of the subject to discuss it much, but expressed a willingness to introduce me to a number 
of important British Jews. He is opposed to partition of Palestine, and therefore would be 
glad if my scheme could serve as a practical alternative." In Schiff's opinion Norman would 
do well to "keep close to Nathan Katz." Norman wrote that Schiff was "a very fine man, but 
not deep on general questions, although sound and solid on business and economic matters." (^) 

On the same day, Norman met with Benjamin Akzin. At this meeting, Akzin suggested 

' / Ibid., pp.114-15. 

2 / Ibid., p.ll4. 

/ Photocopy from Norman's diary, reproduced in Medoff, Baksheesh Diplomacy, op. cit., 9th page between pp. 105- 

— 97 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

that Norman should speak with Sir Neill Malcolm, the League of Nations High 
Commissioner for Refugees. He described him as a Revisionist sympathiser with the ability 
to make "good government contacts." He was suspicious of the British because of their 
increasingly pro-Arab attitude and he accordingly urged Norman not to allow "the discussion 
of my scheme to get on to a plan of Partition versus non-Partition," because the transfer scheme 
"is applicable with or without [partition]." Akzin was very wary of a possible trick by the 
British Colonial Office who might "offer to work out the Iraq scheme for the proposed Jewish 
State in return for agreement to Partition on the part of its Jewish official opponents" and 
then, "after Partition had been put into effect" they would "back out of the rest of the 
bargain." Norman obviously took this advice seriously since he then wrote in his diary that 
"this is a point to remember." On Akzin, Norman wrote that his "knowledge and brains are of 
the highest order, and he has a good judgment on political matters, but his influence is not 
wide.... His personality is not of the best, though he is pleasant, and a good companion." (i) 

Norman arrived in London on 29 November and was met at his hotel by Walter S. 
Cohen, a British non-Zionist friend. Cohen was pessimistic about Norman's plan and 
expressed "great doubts of its possibility" because of the current "unfavourable political and 
psychological situation" in Palestine. Needless to say, Norman did not like Cohen's 
assessment and commented in his diary "Perhaps if it were not so bad, no one would be 
interested at all in any scheme, which may be a way of preventing the bad situation having 
worse results." (^) 

Norman entered in his diary that Walter Cohen had arranged for him to meet with Sir 
Richard Storrs two days later. (^) [Storrs had been Governor of Jerusalem under Allenby and 
Herbert Samuel.] In his Report, Norman wrote "through Sir Robert Waley Cohen, I was put in 
touch with Sir Ronald Storrs," {'•) although, exactly when he had done so, is not too clear. 
Since however Norman wrote both these statements, it would seem that both Cohens were 
involved in the arrangements for the meeting. 

Whether or not Storrs was a potential asset or liability for the Norman plan is a subject 
of dispute. In 1921, the American Zionist leader, Henrietta Szold, described Storrs as an "evil 
genius" and that "he despises the Jews"; (') on the other hand, in 1935, great praise was 
heaped upon him by the British Chief Rabbi, Dr. Joseph H. Hertz at a Jewish meeting 
chaired by Storrs. (^) It is of course possible that in the intervening fourteen years, Storrs 
radically changed his attitude towards the Jews. 

Comments about Storrs suitability for helping Norman were made at the time when 
Norman came to London - (November 1937). Akzin warned Norman to be cautious, since 
according to gossip, he "is very shrewd". (') Jabotinsky also viewed Storrs in a negative way 
and told Norman that he "should not count too much on Storrs.... He said he was not a strong 
chartered man, sort of a dilettante - his success was in Egypt as sort of a social secretary, but 
his record as a governor of Jerusalem was not brilliant, in Cyprus very bad, and in Northern 
Rhodesia calamitous." (*) Walter Cohen, however, was in favour of Storrs' participation and 
remarked to Norman that his timing was good since Storrs had planned "to go to Egypt this 
winter, and might go on to Iraq if he could be interested." He also commented that Storrs was 
"poor and in need of funds .... He might be interested in the Iraq plan as a job." (') 

In a similar vein, Norman wrote in his diary that Waley Cohen thought that Storrs' 
"experience in the Arab East is so wide" that he might well be suitable as a "gentile go- 

/ Medoff, Baksheesh Diplomacy, op. cit., pp. 115-16. 

2 / Ibid., pp.116-17. 

3 / Ibid., p.ll6. 

/ First Norman Report, op. cit., p.2. 
^ / Marvin Lowenthal, Henrietta Szold, Life and Letters, (New York, 1942), pp. 186-87. 

/ Great Britain and Palestine, (The Second Lucien Woolf Memorial Lecture - delivered by Herbert Samuel), (London, 
1935), pp.27-28. 

/ Medoff, Baksheesh Diplomacy, op. cit., p. 116. 
^ / Ibid., p.ll8. 
'* / Ibid., pp.116-17. 

— 98 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

between." (i) However, by the 2 December, when Norman lunched with Sir Robert Waley 
Cohen at his Highgate home in London, the latter's pronounced assessment of Storrs had 
become very negative. Norman now wrote in his diary: "He doubted if [Storrs] would be a good 
man to conduct enquiries and negotiations in Iraq, because, as Sir Robert put it, 'there is a tin 
can tied to his tail' which bangs around wherever he goes - in other words he is too-well 
known and is known to be a political man, and wherever he went political motives would be 
suspected at once by the Arabs. Sir Robert advised not trying to hire Storrs to go to Iraq." {^) 

When and who changed Waley Cohen's views on Storrs is not known. 

The bottom line is that the meeting with Storrs had to be delayed due to Storrs' illness 
(^) and it is not known whether a face to face meeting ever took place. However, Norman 
wrote in his Report, "Sir Ronald [Storrs] unfortunately was committed by contract to deliver 
lectures throughout Europe and America during the ensuing fifteen months, and therefore was 
not available." (^) From his expression "unfortunately", Norman had obviously weighed up 
the pros and cons of using Storrs and come to the conclusion that it would have been an asset. 

On the evening of 2 December, Norman dined with Jabotinsky at London's Hungaria 
restaurant. In his diary, Norman wrote that Jabotinsky "had already read the copy of my 
Iraq paper... He approved of the whole idea very much. He said that he felt, however, that 
the most difficult part would be to induce Arabs to leave Palestine." He suggested that 
instead of Storrs, Norman should use John Henry Patterson, a non-Jew, who had commanded 
the Jewish Legion during World War I and had afterwards become a Revisionist Zionist. (') 
Medoff comments that there is no indication that Norman contacted Patterson, presumably 
because Patterson's Zionist connections would have aroused the Iraqis' suspicions. (^) 

In England, Norman also met with a number of leading personalities in Anglo-Jewry. 
These included. Sir Osmond d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Chairman of the British section of the 
Jewish Agency; Neville Laski, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews; Leonard 
Stein, the legal advisor to the Jewish Agency and author of books on Zionist history; Harry 
Sacher, a manager of Marks and Spencers and a British Zionist leader; and James A. de 
Rotschild, a member of the British Parliament. The contents of their discussions are not 
recorded. However, Norman writes that "all of them offered me all the help of which they 
were capable, and it was only with that help that I was able to accomplish anything at all." 


Norman also discussed his plans with Major C. S. Jarvis, who for eleven years until 1936 
had been Governor of the Province of Sinai in Egypt. However, since he had been an outspoken 
friend of the Jews, he disqualified himself from the task of making contact with the Iraqis. 


After considering various other men for the task he finally chose H. T. Montague Bell. 
Walter Cohen had put Norman in touch with him. (') Bell was a man in his early sixties who 
knew the Orient thoroughly. For a number of years he had been editor-in-chief of the British 
weekly periodical "Great Britain and the East" and prior to that, had been foreign 
correspondent for "The Times" of London. Bell had also spent three years in Baghdad and was 
on friendly terms with the King and other leading personalities in that country. As far as 
character was concerned. Bell impressed Norman as being a quiet, studious and highly 
respectable person. (^'') 

Bell had had a number of contacts with Zionism during the 1930s and from three private 

/ Ibid., p.ll4. 

/ Ibid., p.ll7. 

/ Ibid. 

/ First Norman Report, op. cit., p.2. 

/ Schechtman, Fighter & Prophet, The Vladimir Jabotinsky Story, English ed., op cit., p. 325; Medoff, Baksheesh 
Diplomacy, op. cit., p. 117. 

/ Medoff, Baksheesh Diplomacy, op. cit., p. 118. 

/ First Norman Report, op. cit., pp. 1-2. 
^ / Ibid., p.2 
'* / Ibid. 
^° I Ibid. 

— 99 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

conversations between Montague Bell and high placed Zionist officials which took place in 
1933 and 1934, one can get a good idea of Bell's views at that period towards the Zionist cause. 

From the reports of these meetings we can see that Bell was very sceptical of the 
possibility of a large Jewish immigration into Palestine at that period, (i) He was also very 
critical of the lack of co-operation between the Jewish Agency in Palestine and the British 
Mandatory authorities. (^) 

In the course of these conversations. Bell also put forward his views regarding the 
Arabs. We see from the report of the first of these conversations, that Bell said that "we paid 
much too much attention to what the Arabs said. In his opinion one Jew was worth ten Arabs, 
and if only we were more conscious of this superiority we should be less sensitive to things 
that seemed to us to be aimed against us. For example, as regards the Legislative Council, he 
was convinced that the Jews, even if in a minority on it, could easily outwit the Arabs". (^)In 
another of these conversations. Bell said that "it would be a mistake if the Palestine 
Government showed any weakness by the way of concessions in the face of disorder or threats 
of disorder by the Arabs." C) 

Included in the reports of these meetings, is an assessment by the Zionists present of 
Bell's attitudes towards Zionism. At the first of these meetings, the assessment was, "On the 
whole, Mr. Bell's attitude was one of expressing good-will towards the Jews and their work in 
Palestine, while disagreeing with their tactics." (^) The report of the last meeting states that 
"before leaving, Mr. Bell reiterated that despite his criticism, he was a friend of the Zionist 
movement." The response of the Zionists present was that "though he obviously had an 
understanding and appreciation of much of our point of view, any favourable reference to 
Zionism in the Near East [the paper Bell edited] was unusual, and we suggested that he 
should write an article in which expression was given to the sympathy felt by him towards 
the Zionist cause". Bell, however, could not accept this idea, since it might be used to 
reinforce the campaign being conducted against the British Government and the result would 
"merely militate against his own aim of a Palestine which was a single united whole." (^) 

As far as his Arab transfer plans were concerned, Norman considered that Bell was 
entirely in sympathy with his (Norman's) objectives. This however, appears not to have been 
the case just a year and a half earlier. We can see this from a letter written by Bell to "The 
Times" in March 1936, where he supported the setting up of a legislative council in Palestine. 
He saw in such a council the "only practical means of bringing Arabs and Jews together" and 
that in the council chamber they would be "forced to discover that there is something to be 
said for one another's points of view, and that it is up to both to work in harmony for the well- 
being of their country." (') A few days later, a letter was published from Norman Bentwich 
disagreeing with Bell's views. (^) Bell was obviously so firm in his opinion, since he wrote a 
further letter defending it. (') It is of course possible that Bell's views on the subject radically 
changed in the following year and a half, or he was was convinced by the weight of Norman's 
arguments. However, it seems more likely (as will be seen later) that Bell was attracted to 
the job by the remuneration he was to receive from Norman. As we shall see, having taken the 
work. Bell carried it out most conscientiously. 

From the Iraqi Ambassador in London, Bell learned that Iraq had invested large sums, 
because the money had been accumulated in a special fund from oil royalties and these 
improvements had been suggested by a number of experts, and it "seemed wise to construct the 
works while the money was available, even though the benefits might not be realized for 

' / Note of a Conversation with Mr. Walter Cohen and Mr. Montague Bell, London, 30 January 1933, (CZA Z4/5190 
viii); Note of Interview with Mr. Montague Bell, London, 30 October 1933, (CZA Z4/5190 viii). 
2 / Note of Conversation with Mr. Montague Bell, 11 June 1934, pp.1-2, (CZA Z4/5190 viii). 

/ Conversation with Cohen and Bell, 30 January 1933, op. cit. 

/ Interview with Bell, 30 October 1933, op. cit. 

/ Conversation with Cohen and Bell, 30 January 1933, op. cit 

/ Conversation with Bell, 11 June 1934, p.4, op. cit. 
^ / H. T. Montague Bell, Letters to the Editor, The Times, (London), 18 March 1936, p.lO. 

/ Norman Bentwich, Letters to the Editor, The Times, (London), 20 March 1936, p. 10. 
^ / H. T. Montague Bell, Letters to the Editor, The Times, (London), 24 March 1936, p.l2 

— 100 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

some time." The Ambassador was of the opinion that Iraq might be "interested in a scheme 
that would put the land to use in the near future." {^) 

Norman employed Bell to go to Iraq in order to find out whether they were interested in 
a large Arab immigration. At all events he was to implant in the minds of the leading 
personages in Iraq the idea that the country's greatest need was an increased population of 
Arabs skilled in agriculture and that the "only place where any quantity of such people 
might be found who might have an economic reason of their own for going to Iraq is Palestine." 

One of Norman's meetings in London had been with Norman Bentwich (a former 
attorney general for the Palestine Mandate administration) and the latter introduced Edward 
Norman to Ronald Vernon. In the latter part of December 1937, Norman met with Vernon and 
explained his plan to him. Vernon liked the plan very much and, after the meeting Vernon 
wrote to Sir John Shuckburgh, who was Deputy Under-Secretary of State at the Colonial 
Office, requesting an appointment for Norman, stating that he should "be taken seriously" 
and "should be listened to sympathetically." (') 

A meeting with Shuckburgh and Harold Downie, who was Assistant Secretary at the 
Colonial Office, took place at the that office on 19 January, in which Norman spoke for two 
hours giving a clear exposition of his plan. From a note written by Downie to Shuckburgh after 
the meeting, we can see that these British civil servants were hostile to the Norman plan 
right from the outset. In his note, Downie pronounced Norman's approach to be "entirely 
pragmatic and he achieves simplification by deliberate exclusion of the facts and factors 
which are really at the root of the trouble", and it is based on the assumption that the 
problem was economic and not political. He said that both the Peel Commission and the 
British Government took the contrary view and this "knocks the bottom out of any scheme" 
such as Norman's. He therefore felt that it was a "waste of time to comment on the details of 
Mr. Norman's proposal and that it was "difficult to take this proposal seriously." In order 
that Norman should not get the idea that the British Government endorsed his plan, Downie 
suggested the text of a letter to be sent to Norman. (*) 

Shuckburgh wrote to Norman on the lines suggested by Downie, also pointing out that 
"the Government could not lend any support to a scheme which they must regard as proceeding 
upon an incorrect assumption, and consequently as impracticable." He added that should 
Norman pursue his scheme, his activities would "have not .received either the encouragement 
or even the acquiescence of the British Government or any of its officials." (') Norman replied 
that he agreed that his view of the fundamental difficulty in Palestine differed from that of 
the British Government. Were this not the case, he "would consider naturally that the matter 
was being dealt with effectively" and would not have involved himself with the issue of 
Palestine. He, nevertheless, wanted the British Government to be aware of the fact that he 
was trying to implement his plan. (^) 

A week after his meeting with Shuckburgh, Norman asked him for the address of Sir 
Francis Humphrys. Prior to Iraq's independence, Humphrys had been the High Commissioner, 
and following independence in 1932 served as its British Ambassador for a period of three 
years. Shuckburgh gave Humphrys's address to Norman, (') but then wrote to Humphrys 
warning him to expect Norman to be in contact with him. (^) Humphrys replied to 
Shuckburgh, that since returning from Iraq he had "been pestered with requests from the 
Press, societies and busybodies of all kinds who are interested in the Middle East, to write 
articles, attend meetings or give my views on the subject of Palestine." Norman was not as yet 

/ First Norman Report, op. cit., pp.2-3. 

/ Ibid., p.3. 

/ Vernon to Shuckburgh, op. cit. 

/ Downie to Shuckburgh, 26 January 1938, (PRO CO 733/333 75156/35). 

/ Shuckburgh to Norman, 5 February 1938, (PRO FO 371/21885 E775). 

/ Norman to Shuckburgh, 7 February 1938, (PRO FO 371/21885 E1021). 

/ Shuckburgh to Norman, 26 January 1938, (PRO CO 733/333 75156/35). 

/ Shuckburgh to Humphrys, 26 January 1938, (PRO CO 733/333 75156/35). 

— 101 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

amongst these people and Humphrys hoped "that the call will not materialise." {^) It is not 
recorded whether Norman ever contacted Humphrys. 

A meeting did however take place with John Martin, who had been Secretary to the 
Peel Commission. No report of the contents of this meeting has been traced, although we do 
know that correspondence regarding Norman's memorandum passed through Martin's hands. 


The memorandum which Norman left with Shuckburgh was also studied by senior civil 
servants at the Foreign Office. Their comments were likewise far from favourable and even 
contained an element of sarcasm. "Mr. Norman's ingenious ideas might have received even 
wider elaboration at his hands if he had thought of transferring the Palestine Arabs to Iraq 
and the Assyrians to take their lands in Palestine." Another of them wrote that although it 
had evidently been worked out with considerable care it was "completely off the rails", 
adding that before the First World War, something might have been done on those lines, but 
to expect that in the late 1930s the Palestine Arabs would move to Iraq and leave Palestine to 
the Jews showed "a complete failure to appreciate the real nature of the problem." He felt 
that the Arabs "would rather starve than assist the settlement of the Jews." C) 

In passing one might mention that this type of comment was not limited to Norman's 
plans. As we shall see later, when at the same period, a Greek Jew named Edwin Saltiel put 
forward in a letter to the British Foreign Secretary, a proposal for a Jewish-Arab transfer of 
population, a senior civil servant at the Foreign Office made uncomplimentary comments 
about his plan. 

This attitude was again illustrated on 4 February, when Bell who had known 
Shuckburgh for a number of years, telephoned him and suggested paying him a farewell visit 
before he left for Iraq. In a note written that day to Sir Cosmo Parkinson, who was Permanent 
Under-Secretary at the Colonial Office, Shuckburgh wrote that he did not encourage this 
suggestion of Bell's. "I am sure that we had better keep clear of the whole business." (^) 

Bell arrived in Baghdad on 15 February and remained in Iraq until 28 March. He gave as 
his reason for being in Iraq, the preparation of articles for the British and American press on 
the progress of the country since its complete independence in 1932. This made it reasonable for 
him to ask searching questions of the leading people in the country. During his first two weeks 
in Iraq, he travelled widely discussing the country's affairs with leading British officials 
who were still there. He also had an audience with the King, and the Prime Minister gave a 
dinner for him, which was attended by the entire cabinet. He succeeded in renewing all his 
old friendships and made many new friends. Norman considered that Bell "carried out his 
mission in an exceptionally capable manner." (^) 

On his return to England, Bell submitted a complete report of his trip to Norman. Bell 
was of the opinion that if the matter were to be "properly handled", the scheme would be 
practicable, and that he had aroused considerable interest in it on the part of the leading 
Iraqis. Norman continued to employ Bell to write a number of articles about Iraq. These 
articles were to mention the need for increased population in Iraq to assist in its development. 
On publication, copies would be sent to the leading Iraqis. ('') In order to divert attention from 
the fact that Bell was particularly interested in Iraq, Norman reported that Bell's first 
article which appeared in "The Times" dealt with the problems of Kuwait. (') However, a 
search of the indices of "The Times", has not yielded such an article. 

In October of that year, on the sixth anniversary of Iraq's emergence as an independent 
state, an article of Bell's appeared in "The Times" of London. Bell wrote about the 
development of Iraq, emphasising the importance of the irrigation projects and stressing the 

/ Humphrys to Shuckburgh, 27 January 1938, (PRO CO 733/333 75156/35). 

/ Martin to Baggallay, 7 February 1938, (PRO FO 371/21855 E775). 

/ Foreign Office London, Departmental Comments, February 1938, (PRO FO 371/21885 E1021). 

/ Shuc]<burgh to Parkinson, 4 February 1938, (PRO CO 733/333 75156/35). 

/ First Norman Report, op. cit., p.3. 

/ Ibid., pp.3-4. 

/ Edward Norman, Second Report on Iraq Scheme, 15 May 1939, p.2, (CZA A246/29/1). 

— 102 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

under-population of the country. "Iraq's paramount requirement is an increase of population. 
With from 3,500,000 to 4,000,000 inhabitants she cannot do justice to the potentiahties of the 
land - the lack of labour is a constant problem - and she is at a disadvantage against Turkey 
and Iran with their far larger populations. The settlement of the nomads on the land may add 
to her wealth, but any substantial increase of population in the near future must come from 
outside." Although stressing Iraq's need for immigration "from outside". Bell did not mention 
Palestine directly. (^) This article of Bell's was referred to a few weeks later by Sir Walter 
Smiles in a debate in the British Parliament following the publication of the Woodhead 
Report. Smiles then commented, "Here is a chance for the King of Iraq to be helpful to the 
Arabs in Palestine by offering them work and land in Iraq. It would be much better than 
inciting them to rebellion." (^) 

In August 1938, Bell had a meeting with Downie, during which he gave a report of his 
visit to Iraq. Bell reported that whilst the Iraqi ministers had said that the transfer of Arabs 
from Palestine to Iraq "was out of the question at the present time, they were inclined to 
nibble at the idea as a future possibility." Downie noted that "Mr. Bell was careful not to 
mention Mr. Norman and his scheme, and tried to convey the impression that his 
investigations were purely personal." Bell's behaviour was in fact very understandable in 
view of the fact that Downie had been hostile to Norman's plan. 

Bell emphasised the advantages of such a transfer, but fully appreciated that the 
scheme depended on the willingness of the Arabs of Palestine to transfer to Iraq, which at the 
time was most unlikely. He understood that the British Government could not associate itself 
with any such scheme. Downie then referred to the difference that the transferred Arabs 
would experience between the temperate climate of Palestine and the excessively hot climate 
of the lower reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates. Towards the conclusion of the meeting. Bell 
asked Downie "what attitude the British Government would adopt to any proposal for 
encouraging the voluntary immigration of Palestinian Arabs to Iraq." Downie said he was not 
in a position to give an official answer, but in his own personal opinion, he saw no prospect of 
the Arabs being prepared to leave Palestine for Iraq, or the Iraqi governmentencouragingsuch 
a development. However, if at a future date, these Arabs would wish to migrate and the Iraqi 
Government be willing to receive them, he could "not see any reason why the Government of 
Palestine should stand in the way." (^) 

In October, two of the most prominent Iraqi political leaders were in London for 
conferences with British officials in connection with the severe disturbances which then 
prevailed in Palestine. Bell undertook to utilise this opportunity to strengthen his already 
friendly relationship with them. (*) 

At about the same time, Norman who was in the United States, had a meeting with 
Cyrus Adler, the President of the American Jewish Committee. Three months later, Adler 
reported on the contents of this meeting to Ben-Gurion. According to Ben-Gurion's diary, Adler 
had offered to assist Norman with his plan and to this end, had given him a number of 
sources. Norman was of the opinion, that if one were to give an Arab from fifty to two hundred 
and fifty acres of land in Iraq in exchange for his two to three acres in Palestine, he would go. 
This was the method which had been used by the American government to encourage the 
early settlers to migrate westwards. Adler had concluded that Norman was caught up with 
his transfer idea, and that he had already found supporters and that he would also find 
additional supporters. He observed that Sieff(?) was also dealing with this matter. (^) 

Meetings with American Governnient Officials 

About 17 October 1938, Norman received a long letter from Montague Bell (letter 
untraced) who was in London. He had obviously asked Bell's advice on the wisdom of trying 

/ H. T. Montague Bell, "Iraq Today - Townsmen and Tribesmen", The Times, (London), 27 October 1938, p. 13. 
^ / Parliamentary Debates, Commons, vol.341, 24 November 1938, (London, 1938), col.2057. 
3 / Note of interview with Mr. Montague Bell, 13 August 1938, (PRO FO 371/21885 E4957). 

/ Second Norman Report, op. cit., p.3, 

/ David Ben-Gurion, Handwritten Diary entry 6 January 1939, (BGA) ; Ben-Gurion, Memoirs, vol.6, op. cit.,p.80. 

— 103 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

to obtain a meeting with the British Colonial Secretary, Malcolm MacDonald, in order to 
discuss his transfer plan. Bell answered that in his opinion "it would be very dangerous" to 
discuss this plan with MacDonald at that period. He felt that "it would be rejected" and thus 
"it might be very difficult to bring it up again". In addition it might leak out to the Arabs 
who would then completely denounce it. {^) 

Following a meeting held between Norman and James McDonald on 15 October (namely, 
a few days before receiving Bell's letter), whose purpose was to discuss this plan, James 
McDonald prepared a long letter to send to the Colonial Secretary. He sent this letter to 
Norman to read and then mail. However after he received Bell's letter, Norman decided that 
it would be prudent not to send it. (^ ) 

In this letter James McDonald wrote that he was "suggesting a way in which 
colonization of Palestinian Arabs in Iraq might contribute towards a solution of the problem of 
the Jewish homeland." We should remember that this was during the period of the Arab 
rebellion in Palestine and the Woodhead Commission was about to publish its report 
regarding thr future of Palestine. 

He pointed out that for the last year he had known of a scheme developed by Norman 
which is "far-reaching and may strike at the roots of the Palestine problem." In his letter, 
James McDonald went on to summarise the main points of the Norman plan, and he pointed out 
that increasing Iraq's population would strengthen that country and this would be of 
"strategic importance to Britain". He also explained that Norman's research had shown that 
the Iraqis would only permit the immigration of Arabs and that the only Arabs with reason to 
come were those from Palestine. Furthermore, it was also psychologically important that the 
Iraqis should themselves put forward this idea. 

James McDonald concluded his letter by asking the Colonial Secretary "to consider this 
plan, which approaches the present impasse in a new and practical way. Mr. Norman is 
prepared to come to England at once to see you if you would like to discuss his plan with him. 
If you would wish him to come, you can cable me to that effect and he will leave on the first 
fast ship to sail." (^) 

Norman had also asked advice from other people regarding this question. One of these 
was Justice Louis Brandeis, who thought that he should go to such a meeting. (*) At that 
period Brandeis had met with President Roosevelt and the latter had informed him of his 
views on "the need of keeping it [Palestine] whole and making it Jewish" and "he was 
tremendously interested ... on learning of the plentitude of land for Arabs in Arab countries." 
(') It is not clear whether Brandeis had met with Roosevelt before the former wrote to 
Norman, and if so, whether Brandeis told Norman of this meeting with the President. 

Norman also planned to discuss this matter with presidential advisor Ben Cohen and 
hoped that he would "be able to work it out so that I can go to London with an introduction 
from our Government in a month or so, when perhaps the British will have established better 
control in Palestine." (^) 

Norman seems to have had a further meeting with Brandeis about 14 November 1938 
and he was again put in touch with Ben Cohen, who arranged a meeting for him with the 
Under-Secretary of State, Sumner Welles. C) This meeting with Welles took place on 16 
November. The minutes of this meeting state that "Mr. Norman had formulated a plan 
regarding Palestine and that Mr. Welles had agreed to give him letters to our Embassy in 
London with a view to his meeting Mr. Malcolm MacDonald, British Colonial Secretary." (*) 

/ Norman to James McDonald, 19 October 1938, (Columbia University, file: Norman, James McDonald papers). 
2 / Ibid. 

/ James McDonald to Malcolm MacDonald, 18 October 1938, (Columbia University, file: Norman, James McDonald 

/ Norman to James McDonald, 19 October 1938, op. cit. 

/ Frankfurter to Wise, 18 October 1938, (American Jewish Historical Society, P-134 Stephen S. Wise papers, box 106, 
folder "Brandeis Louis D."). 
^ / Norman to James McDonald, 19 October 1938, op. cit. 

/ Memorandum of Conversation, 16 November 1938, op. cit., pp.2-3. 
^ / Ibid., p.l. 

— 104 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Welles also suggested that Norman meet with Paul Ailing, who was the Assistant 
Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs at the State Department, and this he did 
straight away. The meeting lasted for an hour and a half and during it he described his plan 
in some detail and also the steps which he had so far taken to carry it out. Norman told 
Ailing that Bell was returning to Iraq on that very day and would spend the winter there, and 
that he himself "was expecting to visit Iraq after a week or two in London soon after the first 
[month - January] of the year." Norman asked whether it would be possible for Alling's office 
to give him letters for the U.S. representatives in Baghdad, Jerusalem and Beirut, to which 
Ailing answered in the affirmative. When asked that if the Norman plan would prove 
successful, it would completely solve the Jewish refugee problem, Norman "replied with a 
categorical negative." At the end of the meeting, Norman requested that "for the time being 
at least" his plan should not be made known to the American representatives in the Near 
East. (1) 

On 14 December 1938, Norman wrote a letter to Sumner Welles reminding him of the 
contents of their meeting of 16 November and of Welles' agreement to furnish him with 
"letters of introduction to the United States diplomatic and consular representatives in 
certain foreign countries." Norman pointed out that in all probability he would be leaving for 
England on 26 December and asked that Welles should prepare letters of introduction to the 
United States Ambassadors in Great Britain and France, the United States Ministers in Iraq 
and Egypt, and the United States Consuls General in Palestine and Syria. He also requested 
that these letters "not only would introduce me to them but would ask them to facilitate my 
meeting various personages in the respective countries to which they are accredited." (^) 

On the following day, Welles wrote to Murray, asking him to draft out these letters of 
introduction and "send such word with regard to him to the diplomatic representatives 
mentioned in his letter, as may in your judgment be wise and appropriate." (^) 

Two days later, Welles wrote to Norman enclosing letters of introduction to all these 
people adding, "I am sure that these representatives will be glad to assist you in meeting the 
persons with whom you may wish to discuss your plan." (*) 

In these letters of introduction which Welles wrote to the various persons, he included 
"Mr. Norman may wish to meet certain personages, and I should be appreciative of any 
facilities in this respect which you may be able to extend to him." (') 

Welles sent copies of these letters of introduction to the various persons together with 
an accompanying letter "as well as a copy of a letter which I have received from him 
explaining the general nature of his plans during a proposed visit to Europe and the Near 
East." In the accompanying letter, Welles wrote that "Mr. Norman has come to me well 
recommended." He also pointed out that Norman might not find it necessary to call on him for 
assistance. (^) 

It would seem that Norman only got as far as England and there is no record of his even 
meeting the United States Ambassador in Britain. The reason for his remaining in England 
was "to explore the practical possibilities" of his working together with Pinhas Rutenberg. 


On 22 December 1938, Norman wrote a long letter to Solomon Goldman, enclosing a copy 
of the latest version of his memorandum together with his progress report, stressing the need 
for secrecy. Norman informed Goldman that he had agreed that Rose Jacobs, the President of 
Hadassah, discuss the matter with Weizmann and Shertok and "she has sent word that the 
idea and plan appeal to them very much, and that they are pleased that the matter is being 
handled privately, inasmuch as they feel that if a public body were to become involved, and 

' / Ibid., pp.1-3. 

2 / Norman to Welles, 14 December 1938, (NA 867N.01/1360). 

3 / Welles to Murray, 15 December 1938, (NA 867N.01/1360). 
* / Welles to Norman, 17 December 1938, (NA 867N.01/1360). 

/ Welles to various Ambassadors and Consuls, (Letters of Introduction), 17 December 1938, (NA 867N.01/1360). 
/ Welles to various Ambassadors and Consuls, (Accompanying Letters), 17 December 1938, (NA 867N.01/1360). 
^ / Edward Norman, Second Report on Iraq Scheme, 15 May 1939, p.5. (CZA A246/29/1). 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

if that fact ever were to become public, there might be very serious repercussions" (^). A 
question that could be asked is when Rose Jacobs said "that the idea and plan appeal to 
them", does the word "them" include Rose Jacobs? 

We do know that towards the end of 1940, Rose Jacobs was still involved with Norman's 
plan. It was at that period that Hadassah set up a (non-publicised!) "Committee for the 
Study of Arab-Jewish Relations" chaired by Rose Jacobs. She sent a member of this 
Committee, Dr. Max Schloessinger, some material which included material on the Norman 
plan. (Schloessinger was a scholar of Islamic Jewish literature, who held that the only hope 
for peace with the Arabs was to abrogate the idea of a Jewish state in Palestine.) 

In his letter of reply to Rose Jacobs, dated 26 December 1940, Schloessinger wrote that it 
was "useless to discuss" Norman's plan then, "but even in 1937 I doubt whether the Arabs could 
be persuaded to sell out at home and start out anew." He then pointed out that "the argument 
in paragraph 21 (2) [of Norman's document], that the Jews in Palestine will crowd out the 
Arabs is positively dangerous, if used as a means of inducing the Arabs to emigrate as Norman 
seems to propose." (^) His comments seem to be in conformity with his views on Jewish 
statehood in Palestine! 

The fact that Schloessinger refers to "paragraph 21 (2)" proves that he received the 
second version of Norman's plan. However, the archival file of this Committee O includes 
the third version of this plan and one might thus ask why he was not sent this latest version. 
It is possible that the reason is that the second version is more detailed, or, that he in fact 
received both these versions but he commented only on the second version. 

In March 1941, Dov Joseph, the legal adviser to the Political Department of the Jewish 
Agency told the Hadassah National Board that the Arabs of Palestine would have to look 
elsewhere to give "satisfaction to their desire to live an Arab national life." He recommended 
Iraq as such a place. (^) 

A month later Weizmann told the Hadassah National Board: "If you can organize the 
exodus of 150,000 Arabs [from Palestine], you already have room for [an additional] over 
600,000 Jews ... It is not a problem which one would shirk at the end of this war. The change in 
old values will take place, and I believe we don't have to be too timid about it. We ought to 
take courage in the midst of this great upheaval." (^) The minutes of this meeting show that 
the Hadassah National Board members refrained from criticising this transfer plan of 
Weizmann's. (^) 

At the end of April 1942, Waldo Heinrichs, a Professor of Contemporary Civilisation at 
Middlebury College in Vermont, lectured to the Hadassah Committee on Arab-Jewish 
Relations. In the course of this lecture he proposed that "a purchase of land could be made in 
the adjacent territories around Palestine, Syria, Trans Jordan, even Sinai, and therefore be 
irrigated and prepared for occupation ... and then that land turned over to Arabs living in 
Palestine on the condition that they occupy it and it become fertile." (') The transcript of the 
discussion which followed this lecture shows that that none of the Hadassah leaders present 
questioned or criticised this proposal. This was not a question of politeness, since we can see 
from other lecturers that these Hadassah members would readily criticise proposals which 
they did not agree with! (*) 

Now to return to Norman's letter to Goldman of December 1938. He also included in it a 
resume of his work up to date and of his future plans on this project, and informed him that he 
wanted and needed help "and lots of it" but it had to be coordinated with his line of action. 

/ Norman to Goldman, 22 December 1938, (American Jewish Archives, Solomon Goldman Papers, Box 2). 

/ Dr. Max Schloessinger's Comments on Arab-Jewish Relations. Material Submitted to him by Mrs. Jacobs, 26 
December 1940, paragraph 9, (CZA F31/1). 

/ Third version, op.cit.. File on Hadassah Committee for the Study of Arab-Jewish Relations, (CZA F31/3). 
* / Rafael Medoff, Zionism and the Arabs, (Westport, 1997), p.l04. 
^ / Ibid., pp.104-05. 
^ / Ibid., p. 105. 
7 / Ibid., p. 103. 
^ / Ibid., pp. 103-04. 

— 106 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

otherwise it could be counter-productive. {^) 

Norman had left a copy of the third version of his plan with the State Department. 
They read it carefully and wrote a number of handwritten notes in the margin. All these notes 
seem to be written in the same handwriting. Whether they are the work of just one official, or 
they are the collated comments of a number of officials is not known. 

When Norman wrote about the economic incentives to encourage transfer, a marginal 
note asks: "Are there instances of such voluntary migrations of entire communities?" (^) 

On Norman's proposal that Arab immigration to Palestine "be stopped completely and 
for ever", there is a marginal note: "But the natural increase in the Arab population could not 
be stopped thus by fiat. Between 1922 and 1937 the increase of the Jewish population by 
immigration was less than the natural increase of the Arab population." (^) 

Norman's conclusion that whereas Jews would be loyal to British Empire interests, 
Arabs would not, is questioned in a marginal note: "? ? This is extremely questionable." C) 
[One could comment here that the events of the Second World War, namely, when many of the 
Arab leaders sided with the Nazis, whilst the Jews of Palestine actively fought with the 
Allies, shows that Norman's prediction on this matter was correct.] 

At the end of the section dealing with "Proceedure" there is a note: "But in the 
meantime there would probably take place a progressive increase in the Arab population 
remaining in Palestine which has shown a remarkably interesting tendency to more than 
match the increase in the Jewish population by immigration." (') 

Bell's Second Visit to Iraq 

In November 1938, Bell returned to Iraq for an extended stay. He took one of his 
daughters with him and they rented a comfortable house in Baghdad. Thus, he was able to 
say that his return to Iraq "was in part for a rest and in part to continue his studies of Central 
Asian affairs in connection with his profession as a journalist and political student." ('') 

Norman pointed out to Bell that this time he had to "accomplish something very 
definite." He informed him that the method he had to use to accomplish his task was "to 
gather material for the writing of a real book on present day Iraq." This book would then 
have to be written and published without much delay. In order to gather information for this 
book. Bell was instructed to "ask a great many questions of the leading people in Iraq, which 
questions must lead to very profound and lengthy discussions" regarding the most serious 
problems which faced the statesmen of that country. During these conversations, he must 
"attempt to more and more arouse these statesmen to feeling that the need for an increase in 
their population is a pressing one, from three main angles." These angles were: a return for the 
money which had been invested in the country's improvements; enabling the country's 
communications and other amenities to develop; and to put the country in a position where 
nobody could claim that its valuable resources were being neglected. In addition there was 
also the defence angle. Norman wrote that Bell should try and arouse the Iraqi statesmen "to 
a realization of the need of their country to increase its population at once with a considerable 
immigration of Arabs who will not form an unassimilated minority element, and who are 
farmers and who will immediately constitute productive factors." Bell had to aim to have 
these statesmen say that they were "fully convinced of the .need for an increased population" 
and that they "desire financial help in obtaining it." It was also important that these Iraqi 
statesmen should be convinced that this was their own idea. If Bell were successful in 
influencing the Iraqi statesmen, he should tell them of his many acquaintances in London, who 
would be interested in discussing the financial aspects of such a population increase. (') 

/ Norman to Goldman, 22 December 1938, op.cit. 

/ Edward Norman, "An Approach to the Arab Question in Palestine", third version, lanuary 1938, marginal note to 
section iv para.ll, (NA 867N.01/1618). 

/ Ibid., marginal note to section v para.8(b). 

/ Ibid., marginal note to section v para.lO(d). 

/ Ibid., marginal note at end of section v 

/ Second Norman Report, op. cit., p.3. 
^ / Norman to Bell, 4 November 1938, (PRO CO 733/413 75906). 

— 107 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

In reply to this letter. Bell wrote that he was in full agreement with Norman's "plan of 
campaign" except that he was against publishing a book in a hurry. "I should not care to be 
identified with a hurried, and therefore possibly slapdash work." Norman had obviously 
mentioned to Bell that he might himself come out to Iraq. In reply Bell wrote that an 
advantage of his coming out would be that they could "go over the ground more fully". Until 
such time, however. Bell urged "the advisibility of minimum discussion with others." (^) 

In a further letter written by Bell at the beginning of December, he told Norman that at 
his meeting with the Prime Minister of Iraq, he had raised "the question of Iraq's need of 
population and the advantage to be derived from attracting settlers from Palestine." The 
Prime Minister answered "that Iraq would welcome any Palestinians coming of their own 

This letter was written just a couple of months before the "London Conference", which 
was called by the British Government to discuss the future of Palestine. Representatives of 
the Jewish Agency, as well as Arabs from Palestine and from the various Arab States had 
been invited. However, Bell felt that in view of the then present frame of mind of the Arabs, 
he could not expect them to put forward "a proposal for the migration of the Palestinian 
Arabs" at the conference. In fact, the Prime Minister had informed him that "for the moment 
the Arabs were thinking more of the Jews leaving Palestine than of themselves doing so." (^) 

In mid-December, Norman wrote to Bell asking him if he felt that by the end of the 
winter he could induce the leading Iraqis to favour increased immigration. He added that it 
would not be necessary at that time for them to make the matter public. On the contrary, it 
would be preferable that it should be on a "very quiet basis." However, Norman thought that 
it was "necessary to have as an objective the open desire for serious negotiations concerning 
immigration by the end of this winter." (^) 

On 22 December Bell wrote that he had nothing to report since the members of the Iraqi 
Government felt that anything connected with Palestine must wait until after the London 
Conference. He added that meanwhile he was "proceeding with the collection of material 
with a view to preparing, if possible, a comprehensive programme of what Iraq should do, 
while steadily propogating the idea of supplementing the population of the country from 
Palestine." Bell also mentioned that a member of the opposition had suggested to him that 
his advocacy of immigration to Iraq might be a "device for easing the British Government's 
problem by eliminating Arabs from Palestine." Bell therefore led the talk back to the 
advantages to Iraq which would derive from such a scheme. (*) [It seems from his letter that 
this took place during Bell's previous visit to Iraq.] 

In a further letter written by Bell a week later, he was optimistic that the Conference 
would grant some concession to the Arabs. As a result, it would then be psychologically 
possible to "put up a more or less concrete scheme" to the Iraqis by which they could "help 
their Palestine brothers and themselves". Bell felt sure that the Iraqi leaders would then be 
prepared to "welcome any constructive proposal that would enable Iraq to pose as a factor in 
Arab affairs. Psychology plays an important part in these things." (^) 

In his reply dated 7 January 1939, Norman referred to Bell's remarks about the 
psychology and yearning for prestige of the Iraqis. He suggested that the forthcoming 
Conference might offer the right opportunity for Iraq to attract world esteem and attention 
and thus leadership among the Arab states "by openly offering to provide land and the 
necessary financing to as many Palestinian Arabs as would like to come to settle in Iraq." 
Norman recommended that the Iraqis proclaim that their country, now free, was on the road 
to reconstructing its former glory. Therefore, the peasants of Palestine "would be far better off 
economically than they can hope to be in Palestine, that rocky little spot that is being overrun 
by these foolish Jews." Norman pointed out that this last part was "meant to suggest the 

^ / Bell to Norman, 23 November 1938, (PRO CO 733/413 75906). 

2 / Bell to Norman, 4 December 1938, (PRO CO 733/413 75906). 

3 / Norman to Bell, 15 December 1938, (PRO CO 733/413 75906). 
^ I Bell to Norman, 22 December 1938, (PRO CO 733/413 75906). 
^ / Bell to Norman, 29 December 1938, (PRO CO 733/413 75906). 

— 108 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

propaganda that would surround the project." 

A revolution had taken place in Iraq towards the end of December 1938, and as a result, 
Nuri had become the new Prime Minister. Norman then asked Bell whether he thought there 
would be any good in his trying to convey this sort of idea to Nuri? "Could you do it without 
revealing that this was the real reason why you are in Iraq? Do you think there would be any 
chance of Nuri following such a line?" {^) 

In a letter written by Bell on 16 January, (it is not clear whether he had already 
received Norman's letter of 7 January), he suggested that Lord Glenconner should privately 
suggest to Nuri that Iraq take advantage of the Conference to "hold out to the Palestinian 
Arabs the ultimate best solution for the Arab States that the Palestinians should migrate to 
Iraq." He added that only Nuri would know whether that was the right moment, and this 
would depend on the Palestinian frame of mind in London, which in turn would depend on 
"how the Conference pans out." Bell however felt that Nuri would "not take kindly to a 
scheme of which the outstanding feature can be represented as favouring the Jews." He 
pointed out that the emphasis would have to be on the "ultimate security and development of 
Iraq, and the possibility of using the existing situation in Palestine to 'make' the Jews pay for 
this development." Bell disagreed with Norman's comments regarding reconstructing Iraq's 
former glories, saying that he did not think that they would "cut much ice." He considered 
that a more "cogent motive" would be that thus Iraq would be enabled to stand up more 
confidently to Turkey and Iran. (^) 

Towards the end of February, Bell wrote a letter from Iraq to Sir Lancelot Oliphant, 
who was Director General of the British Foreign Office. The main import of this letter, was 
the necessity for unifying the Arabs into a single state, comprising Iraq, Syria and 
Transjordan. At the end of his letter, as if thrown in as an afterthought. Bell mentioned the 
population transfer idea. He pointed out "at the risk of having you doubt my sanity" that he 
did "not despair of a time when Iraq will have attracted the great bulk of Palestine Arabs to 
Iraq, the cost of transfer and settlement being defrayed by the Jews." He concluded that such 
an "idea must come from the Iraqis themselves and not from an Englishman." (^) In reply 
Oliphant wrote that he agreed with what Bell had said in his letter, but the obstacles in the 
way of their realisation in the near future were formidable. (^) We should mention that one of 
the Foreign Office civil servants asked to comment on Bell's letter to Oliphant, realised what 
Bell was up to and pointed out that Bell was "not a disinterested observer" but was "only 
there to forward Mr. Norman's rather fantastic schemes, and to inculcate his ideas into the 
minds of the Iraqi authorities." (^) 

Unsolicited and Unwanted Help 

Norman realised that the success of his plan depended on absolute discretion and no 
publicity. He was therefore apprehensive that at the forthcoming London Conference, the 
British Government or the Jewish Agency might put forward "the idea of transferring a large 
part of the Arab population of Palestine to Iraq," whereas it was crucial that the idea be put 
forward by Iraqi sources. He was also concerned that the desire of Pinhas Rutenberg, the 
managing director of the Palestine Electric Company, to engage in large scale economic 
cooperation with the Arabs in Palestine might make the realisation of Norman's scheme 
impossible. (^) 

Norman discussed this situation with Justice Louis Brandeis, and Dr. Maurice Karpf, an 
American non-Zionist member of the Executive of the Jewish Agency who had privately 
endorsed Norman's plans for transfer. ('), and also with Sir Robert Waley Cohen by 

/ Norman to Bell, 7 January 1939, (PRO CO 733/413 75906). 

/ Bell to Norman, 16 January 1939, (PRO CO 733/413 75906). 

/ Bell to Oliphant, 21 February 1939, (PRO FO 371/23245 E1517). 

/ Oliphant to Bell, 14 March 1939, (PRO FO 371/23245 E1517). 

/ Foreign Office London, Departmental Comment, 12 March 1939, (PRO FO 371/23245 E1517). 

/ Second Norman Report, op. cit., pp.3-4. 

/ Medoff, thesis, p. 186. 

— 109 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

telephone. Norman decided to go to London to discuss this matter with the various parties in 
order to ensure that "they understood the undesirabihty of the scheme's being put forward 
openly by any but Iraqi sources." He arrived in London on the last day of 1938 and remained 
until 25 March 1939. (i) 

In preparation for this London Conference, the London Executive of the Jewish Agency 
felt it desirable that the "panel" should include a non-Zionist representative from America. 
In answer to a suggestion that Norman be such a representative, the U.S. Zionist leader and 
founder member of "Hadassah", Rose Jacobs answered "that in view of Mr. Norman's special 
interests, it might perhaps not be advisable for him to be identified with the panel." (^) She 
did not explain what she meant by "special interests", but it could well be his transfer plan. 
However, when the same proposal had been put forward a week earlier,(^) Rose Jacobs who 
was present at the meeting, C) is not reported to have made any such objection. From an entry 
in Ben-Gurion's diary, we can see that Norman himself wanted to be a member of the "panel". 


In London, Norman met with a number of members of the Jewish Agency, with whom he 
had not previously discussed his Iraqi scheme, since they had all been in Palestine when 
Norman visited England in 1937 and 1938. These included Weizmann, Ben-Gurion and 

Norman observed that "they were very much interested in the scheme" and had 
thought of bringing up something like that at the conference. Once they were aware, however, 
of the desirability of allowing the Iraqis themselves, to propose it, they agreed to practice 
reticence. (^) 

The meeting with Ben-Gurion took place on 3 February. At this meeting, Norman gave a 
resume of his plan, activities and expectations, adding that he himself was planning to go to 
Iraq "as an ordinary tourist, so that he would be able to answer if asked 'Have you been to 
Iraq?' 'Yes, I was there'." Ben-Gurion told Norman that the importance of transfer was in 
essence political; it would solve the difficulty of Arabs living within Palestine. It was not to 
make room for Jewish settlement, since at that time there was sufficient room. He summed up 
Norman as a sensible person, loyal to his ideas, and prepared to devote his own money and 
time without wanting any honour or recognition. (') As we have already seen, at the same 
period Ben-Gurion was also considering the transfer of Arabs from Palestine to Iraq, although 
there is no evidence that he disclosed this fact to Norman during their meeting. 

Shertok reports on meeting Norman at London's Paddington station on 4 February. (*) 
Whether it was at this meeting they discussed the transfer plan or whether any other contact 
took place is not recorded. What we do know is, that on that day at Paddington station, a 
number of Zionist leaders went to meet a number of representatives of American Jewry who 
were just arriving in London. It is therefore not very likely that any detailed discussion on 
transfer took place that day between Shertok and Norman. 

A few weeks earlier, Norman had written to Bell saying that his chief worry at that 
moment was Weizmann and some of the other Zionist leaders. Weizmann "is aware of our 
work, thinks well of it, and is tempted to speak of it openly because without it he apparently 
has nothing constructive to offer." Norman continued that he was taking it upon himself to 
impress on Weizmann and his associates the importance of continuing these indirect 
negotiations, and of making no open mention of the transfer of Arabs from Palestine as this 
"would be the one thing most calculated to strengthen those who for their own reasons want 
Palestine to remain largely Arab." He concluded that this would be the hardest task he had 

/ Second Norman Report, op. cit., p.4. 

/ Minutes, J. A. Exec, London, 30 January 1939, p.2, (CZA S25/1020a). 

/ Ibid., 23 January 1939, p.2, (CZA S25/1020a). 

/ Ibid., p.l. 

/ Ben-Gurion, Handwritten Diary entry 3 February 1939, op. cit. ; Ben-Gurion, Memoirs, vol.6, op. cit., p. 127. 

/ Second Norman Report, op. cit., p.4. 

/ Ben-Gurion, Handwritten Diary entry 3 February 1939, op. cit. ; Ben-Gurion, Memoirs, vol.6., op. cit., pp. 126-27. 

/ Shertok, Handwritten Diary entry 4 February 1939, op. cit.; Diaries of Sharett, vol.iv, op. cit., p. 16. 

— 110 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

ever had to face!(i) 

A letter written by Weizmann to the American Zionist leader, Solomon Goldman, after 
the London Conference shows that Weizmann did not maintain complete silence on the matter. 
He stated that during the period of the conference he mentioned this transfer idea to the 
Iraqis adding that "I did not wish to go deeply into this matter, because I knew that Mr. 
Edward Norman was dealing with it very discreetly and I believe very ably." Weizmann 
continued that it would be useful for Goldman to talk with Norman and Lewis Ruskin "on the 
subject of emigration to Iraq in connection with the President's remarks." (^) [Roosevelt, who 
was at the time President of the United States had just put forward his own proposal for the 
transfer of Arabs from Palestine to Iraq.] Goldman answered that should Norman's Iraq plan 
materialise "we should be in a position to get large sums of money in the United States." (') 

A specific mention of Norman and his plan did appear in the American Jewish press 
towards the end of 1943. It was in an article which appeared in the journal "Hamigdal", 
which was the organ of the United States wing of the Religious Zionist movement. The 
article was written by Meir Grossman, the leader of the Jewish State Party, a splinter group 
of the Revisionists. In it, Grossman wrote: "... the support lent by Dr. Weizmann to a very 
similar project expounded by Edward Norman of New York City in 1937-38.... Mr. Norman's 
scheme, I understand, had the ear of the State Department and of some leading Iraquian 
statesmen." (^) There is nothing in Norman's extant correspondence which indicates that he 
was aware of this article. (') 

As we shall see, one person who at the end of the 1930s refused requests not to publicly 
propose transfer of Arabs to Iraq was the American Zionist leader, Emanuel Neumann. 

In June of that year, Weizmann wrote to Norman that he had heard of the possibility of 
Nuri's being replaced as the Prime Minister of Iraq. Nuri had been considered the most 
intransigent among the non-Palestinian Arabs at the London Conference; hence Weizmann 
hoped that should he be replaced, there might be an opportunity of pressing Norman's plan 
further. To this end, Weizmann offered Norman his services. (^) 

Norman and Rutenberg 

In the middle of January 1939, whilst in London, Norman met with Pinhas Rutenberg, 
who had just arrived from Palestine. Norman writes that "he found at once that his 
[Rutenberg's] ideas and mine had much in common, although he had not considered a transfer 
of peasants from Palestine to Iraq". Rutenberg felt that one could "win the confidence and 
friendship of an influential section of the Arabs... by the launching of fundamental economic 
enterprises, mostly of a public utility nature, in which the leading Arabs could take an 
interest and share in the direction." He hoped that by this method "the Arabs of both 
Palestine and the neighboring countries would develop a sense of partnership with the Jews". 
Rutenberg also thought that "if greater economic vitality could be stimulated in the various 
Arab countries, they might attract some of the attention of the Arabs that is now focused on 
Palestine, and there might even develop a migration of Arab labor from Palestine to those 
[neighbouring Arab] countries." Following a number of conversations, Norman and Rutenberg 
agreed that it would be desirable for them to cooperate with one another. (') 

The launching of any enterprise requires funding. As a result of preliminary inquiries, 
Norman concluded that the first person to approach for funding the corporation which he and 
Rutenberg desired to establish, was Albert D. Lasker. Lasker was an advertising pioneer and a 
communal leader in the U.S.A., who was active in Jewish affairs. He had also founded and 
endowed the Lasker Foundation for medical research. Solomon Goldman had already started 

/ Norman to Bell, 7 January 1939, op. cit. 

/ Weizmann to Goldman, 28 April 1939, (WA) ; Weizmann, Letters, vol.xix, (Jerusalem, 1979), no.52, p. 55. 

/ Goldman to Weizmann, 20 June 1939, op. cit., p.4. 

/ Meir Grossman, "A Fair Solution of the Arab-Jewish Conflict", Hamigdal, (New York), December 1943, p.7 

/ Medoff, Baksheesh Diplomacy, op. cit., p. 176 fn.8. 

/ Weizmann to Norman, 12 June 1939, (WA) ; Weizmann, Letters, vol.xix, op. cit., no.93, p. 113. 

/ Norman, Second Report, op. cit. 

— Ill — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

to direct Lasker's attention towards Palestine, and felt that the next steps should be a further 
conversation between Goldman and Lasker to be followed by a conversation between Lasker 
and Judge Louis Brandeis. Norman "thought this was very wise, and agreed to wait [for a 
consultation with Lasker] until these conversations had taken place." On 19 May 1939, 
Norman wrote to Goldman saying that he thought that this reasoning was very wise. 
However, since Goldman was now very busy, Norman suggested that he himself meet with 
Brandeis and following that with Lasker. Norman added that he did not like this 
alternative since he realised that Goldman's influence on Lasker "would be highly valuable." 
Since the matter was urgent, Norman asked Goldman for his opinion, (i) 

Three days later, Goldman sent a telegram to Norman informing him that he had just 
spoken to Lasker, who said that he would not be coming to the east [coast?] before 11 June. 
Goldman promised to meet with him on his next visit to Chicago on 3 June, and suggested that 
Norman meet with Brandeis without waiting for Lasker to return. {^) Whether or not, such 
meetings took place or if they did, whether anything resulted from them, is not known. 

Brandeis during the previous year or so had been assisting both Norman and President 
Roosevelt to advance their transfer proposals. In August 1939, Brandeis had a conference with 
Robert Szold. According to the minutes of this conference, Brandeis said that "the Rutenberg 
and Norman plans (Iraq) of cooperation with Arabs are good." (^) Later the minutes state: "11. 
L.D.B. [Brandeis] suggested that Norman give priority to and concentrate on the Iraq plan. He 
did not know where the funds for the Rutenberg ten million pound corporation could be raised." 
(499) It is not clear from these minutes whether Norman and Rutenberg were still cooperating. 
The fact that on both occasions in these minutes their names appear in close proximity might 
indicate that they were still cooperating. 

One could ask, why Norman wanted to cooperate with Rutenberg. Did he think that it 
would advance his transfer plan, or did he think that by cooperation, Rutenberg would not do 
anything which could possibly (even unintentionally) wreck the transfer plan? 

Attempts at a Pilot Plan 

The Latifiyah estate in Iraq was the site of a British company which had a concession 
for cotton growing on a large area of land near Baghdad. Due to the lack of labour, the 
company was able to cultivate only half its land. 

During his first visit to Iraq, Bell suggested to the Manager that he "import some 500 or 
600 Arab families from Palestine to work the rest of his land." This idea considerably 
appealed to the Manager and on his return to London, Bell followed this up with an approach 
to the officials of the company. (*) There had been some trouble between the company and the 
Iraqi Government, and just before Bell left England, an official of the company informed him 
that he would like to discuss his plan as soon as the negotiations with the Iraqi Government, 
which had already extended for two years, were concluded. 

On his return to Iraq, Bell met by chance the Manager of this company, who informed 
him that the company had accepted the Iraqi Government's terms for being allowed to 
continue operations. Bell observed that between the time of his two visits to Iraq, the 
Manager had "abandoned his intransigent attitude". Bell wrote that after the four days' 
Moslem festival, he intended travelling to Latifiyah to learn details of the agreement with 
the Iraqi Government and to discuss the bearing on Norman's transfer plan. (^) 

Both Bell and Norman realised the importance of applying their plan successfully to 
the company at Latifiyah. Although this involved the transfer of only a small number (about 
five hundred) of Arab families from Palestine to Iraq, it would be an important precedent and 

/ Norman to Goldman, 19 May 1939, (American Jewish Archives, Solomon Goldman Papers, Box 14, Folder 11 - 
Manuscript collection no. 203). 

/ Telegram, Goldman to Norman, 22 May 1939, (American Jewish Archives, Solomon Goldman Papers, Box 14, Folder 
11 - Manuscript collection no. 203). 

/ Memorandum, Conferences with L.D.B. [Louis Brandeis] and R.S. [Robert Szold], 6 August 1939, at Chatham, p.2, 
(American Jewish Archives, Solomon Goldman Papers). 

/ First Norman Report, op. cit., p.4. 
^ / Bell to Norman, 23 November 1938, (PRO CO 733/413 75906). 

— 112 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

would show that the plan was feasible. Norman felt sure that "it would hasten the 
development of our larger scheme." (1) On 22 December, Bell told Norman that he had not be 
able to arrange a visit to the Latifiyah estate until the first week in January, because of the 
Manager's domestic affairs and the impassability of the roads due to the exceptionally 
heavy rains. He added that he would do all he could to influence the Latifiyah people at the 
Iraqi end. (^) At the beginning of January, Bell had his meeting with the Manager. At that 
period, the Latifiyah estate was so much in the debt of the Iraqi government, that Sir 
Maurice Peterson, who was at that time in Baghdad "had considerable difficulty in 
persuading the latter [Iraqi government] not to liquidate the whole concern." (^) However, the 
company did succeed in coming to terms with the Iraqi Government agreeing to pay off its debt 
in full to the Government, receiving in exchange tenure on additional land. In order to recoup 
the cost of this agreement, the company would have to pursue an active programme of 
development. Hence the Manager was "all the keener" to get additional labour "and would be 
glad enough to get Palestinians," as the local Iraqi labour force had been most unreliable. In 
preparation for Bell's talks in London, the Manager was to map out a programme of the 
development he would like to see on the Estate. Thus Bell would have something to put before 
the Directors as an inducement to provide a better labour force through immigration. 

Bell then asked whether it would be possible, after the unrest in Palestine had 
subsided, to locate one or more villages there whose lands the Jews would like to purchase, 
and very carefully start pro-Iraqi propaganda among them. A Latifiyah agent would then 
offer "a complete transfer of from 20 to 50 families as a start." Bell felt that with a definite 
proposition such as this, it would be possible to obtain the agreement of the Iraqi Government 
for the facilities for transfer of large numbers of Arabs. One problem raised by the Manager 
was the difficulty of dismissing an unsatisfactory employee who was a transferee from 
Palestine. Bell concluded that this point needed more consideration than he had been able to 
give it. (*) 

After a series of discussions. Bell was able to induce a majority of the directors of the 
company, including the chairman, to favour the idea of transferring Arabs from Palestine to 
Iraq to work on the company's land. Bell was hopeful that the company would proceed to 
carry out this plan after the completion of certain financial arrangements. (') 

No evidence of further developments in this direction have been found. However, a 
marginal note to a Foreign Office minute regarding the company's financial state in mid-1942, 
says "there is no reason to think that its position has improved." (^) 

Meeting with the British Colonial Secretary 

Norman met with the Colonial Secretary, Malcolm MacDonald, in the presence of Sir 
John Shuckburgh on 20 January 1939 and discoursed on his projects at considerable length. This 
meeting had been arranged by Sir Neill Malcolm, former League of Nations High 
Commissioner for Refugees from Germany, who was interested in Norman's plans. C) At this 
meeting, Norman appeared very confident "that all was going swimmingly and that there 
would be no difficulty in getting the Iraq authorities to make the necessary move (i.e. to ask 
officially for Arab immigrants from Palestine) when the right moment arrived." He fully 
recognised and the Colonial Secretary was explicit "that there could be no question whatever 
of an official move by the British Government or any of its representatives." (*) 

Norman said that MacDonald and Shuckburgh fully understood the undesirability of 
any official British mention of a transfer plan and had assured him that it would not be 

/ Norman to Bell, 15 December 1938, op. cit. 

2 / Bell to Norman, 22 December 1938, op. cit. 

3 / Foreign Office Minute, Sir Maurice Peterson, 4 May 1942, (PRO FO 371/31337 E2820/49/65). 
* / Bell to Norman, 12 January 1939, (PRO CO 733/413 75906). 

/ Second Norman Report, op. cit., p.2. 
^ / Foreign Office Minute, 4 May 1942, op. cit.. Marginal Comment dated 8 May (1942). 

/ Second Norman Report, op. cit., p.4. 

/ Minutes of meeting held on 20 January 1939 between Colonial Secretary and Norman, 23 January 1939, (PRO CO 
733/413 75906). 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

brought up by any British officials. This pledge was observed. 

Norman added that he had no way of knowing whether the British Government "had 
ever thought of using it". {^) This statement of Norman's is difficult to understand, since he 
was surely aware of the fact that already in early 1938, the British Government was opposed 
to transfer of Arabs. They would thus obviously not propose it, (unless of course they had 
wanted to be Machiavellian and propose transfer, in order that the Iraqis would then reject it 
since it was not their own proposal!). In fact, commenting on Norman's plan at that time, a 
senior civil servant at the Foreign Office, wrote, "In itself Mr. Norman's scheme is 
fantastically impracticable and his veiled attempts to "jump' the Iraqi authorities into 
unconscious concurrence are not only foolish but reprehensible." (^) 

In mid-March 1939, Norman had a meeting with Iraqi and Egyptian delegates to the 
London Conference. At this meeting, these delegates who included Tewfik es Suwaidy, the 
Foreign Minister of Iraq, tried to impress on Norman that Iraq needed an immediate increase 
in population and that "the Palestinian Arab peasants constituted the most desirable 
immigrants, and that the Jews had an opportunity to decrease the Arab element in Palestine 
by cooperating in financing the migration." Norman realised that they were "quoting the 
ideas that had been implanted in their minds without their perceiving it by Mr. Bell, whose 
reports to me had mentioned these men as among those with whom he had had frequent and 
long talks." (') Tewfik wanted to obtain Norman's co-operation "in securing funds to defray 
the expenses" of the transfer of these peasants. He was also interested in settling the peasants 
from Palestine in these newly reclaimed areas of Iraq, since without such settlers, the dam 
would be virtually useless. Its outlay would therefore not be earned back and it would thus not 
be possible to repay the loan for its construction to the London bankers. (*) 

Before parting, they invited Norman to come to Baghdad "shortly after their return in 
April to see the country and discuss ways and means of cooperation." Norman explained that 
for personal reasons he could not come until the autumn, and they agreed that he would thus 
come in October or November. (^) 

However, due to the outbreak of the Second World War on 1 September 1939, Norman 
decided not to go to Iraq as planned. He wrote to Tewfik informing him of his decision. In his 
reply Tewfik wrote that he was pleased that Norman was still interested in the scheme but 
agreed that "the time was inopportune for the discussion of a long-range development plan" 
and he suggested that he defer his visit "until a more propitious occasion." (^) 

Further Contacts with American Officials 

Norman had further lengthy conversations on 6 and 7 June 1939, with Wallace Murray 
who was Chief at the Division of Near Eastern Affairs, and his assistant Paul Ailing, in 
which he updated them on the developments regarding his transfer plan. He related his 
chance meeting with Tewfik es Suwaidy, the Foreign Minister of Iraq and Azzam Bey, the 
Egyptian Minister in Baghdad, and how the former had invited him to visit Iraq in order to 
further his transfer plan. Norman concluded that from these conversations with these Arab 
ministers, he "felt that a very good start has been made, or at least the door has been opened, 
and he was reasonably hopeful that his conversations in Baghdad would open the way for an 
experimental settlement." So long as there was "any hope of success", Norman told Murray 
and Ailing, he would be prepared to devote his time to this project. C) 

On the evening of 12 June, Murray briefly discussed Norman's plan with Adolf Berle, the 
Assistant Secretary of State. The next day he sent him a short letter enclosing Norman's 
various memoranda and felt that Berle "would be interested in meeting with and talking to 

/ Second Norman Report, op. cit., p.4. 

/ Foreign Office London, Departmental Comment, 22 February 1939, (PRO FO 371/23245 E1340). 

/ Second Norman Report, op. cit., pp.5-6. 

/ Edward Norman, Supplementary Memorandum on the Iraq Scheme, October 1942, p.l, (CZA A246/29/1). 

/ Second Norman Report, op. cit., p.6. 

/ Supplementary Memorandum, op. cit., pp. 1-2. 

/ Memorandum of Conversation, Proposal for Settlement of the Palestine Problem, 7 lune 1939, (NA 867N.01/1618). 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Mr. Norman in the event he comes to Washington again". Murray concluded, "Personally I was 
very much impressed with Mr. Norman's reasonable views on the Palestine problem and his 
sincere desire to effect a settlement which would be fair to both the Jews and the Arabs." {^) 

In an undated handwritten note, Berle wrote, "I should be interested to see Mr. Norman 
when he comes again." {^) 

On 15 June, Murray sent the memoranda of Norman to Sumner Welles, and in an 
accompanying short note wrote, "I may say that we in this Division [of Near Eastern Affairs] 
have been very much impressed with Mr. Norman personally and with the skillful and 
intelligent manner in which he is proceeding with his plans." (^) 

One can immediately see the completely different attitudes and appreciations to the 
Norman plan by the U.S. government on the one hand and the British government on the 
other. In all fairness, however, we should add that at that period, Britain was the 
Mandatory power over Palestine and was thus responsible for law and order and hence for any 
negative and violent reactions by the Arabs to such a transfer proposal. On the other hand, 
the U.S. government could encourage the proposals by Norman without having to deal with 
the consequences! 

A few weeks later, the U.S. Secretary of State sent copies of the minutes of the meeting 
between Murray, Ailing and Norman of 6 and 7 June and also Norman's confidential report of 
15 May 1939, to the American Consular Officer in charge in Jerusalem, (^) the American 
Minister Resident and Consul General in Baghdad, ('), and the American Ambassador in 
London. (^ ) 

In July 1939, Norman wrote to Sumner Welles, that he had heard from a "fairly reliable 
source" of a plan by Roosevelt in which he had proposed that the American government, the 
British and French governments, and World Jewry would each provide about one hundred 
million dollars for a "mass transference of the Palestine Arabs to Iraq, thus at one stroke 
solving the Palestine problem and providing the possibility of finding new homes in Palestine 
for a large number of European Jews." 

Norman then continued, "Of course, I believe that in essence the idea is splendid." He 
however saw that in the light of his own experience on this subject which extended over a 
number of years he was "convinced that were the President actually to undertake to carry out 
the idea in the manner described above, not only would he be completely unsuccessful, but 
what is more serious, he would forever destroy the possibility of the scheme being carried out 
by other methods." 

Norman explained the importance of the Iraqis thinking that such an idea was their 
own. Thus the President should wait until the Iraqis proposed the scheme and then 
Roosevelt's idea of financing it could be put forward "as a humanitarian responding to an 
appeal made by an Arab kingdom for the benefit of itself and all other Arabs and only 
incidentally involving any benefit to Jews." 

He asked Welles to "ascertain how much truth there is to what I have been told, and if 
there is anything to it, if you could arrange somehow to have the President informed as to the 
destructive implications of his plan." In the event that Welles investigations would show 
that "there is any substance to this story", Norman said that he would request a meeting with 
the President. In any event, unless this information was found to be "absolutely false", 
Norman would want a meeting with Welles to discuss the matter. (') 

On receipt of Norman's letter, Welles immediately passed it on to Murray with an 
attached note, "If the President has any such ideas as those referred to in this letter, he has 
not spoken of them to me. Please let me have your opinion with regard to the matters taken up 

/ Murray to Berle, 13 June 1939, (NA 867N.01/1618). 
/ Handwritten note from Berle, [n.d.], (NA 867N.01/1618). 
/ Murray to Welles, 15 June 1939, (NA 867N.01/1618). 

/ Secretary of State to American Consular Official in charge Jerusalem Palestine, 27 June 1939, (NA 867N.01/1618). 
/ Secretary of State to American Minister Resident and Consul General Baghdad, 27 June 1939, (NA 867 N.01/1618). 
/ Secretary of State to American Ambassador London, 27 June 1939, (NA 867N.01/1618). 
/ Norman to Welles, 27 July 1939, (NA 867N.01/1649). 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

in the letter and your advice as to whether this inquiry deserves my taking it up personally 
with the President." {^) 

In reply Murray wrote that he agreed with Norman's assessment that "any premature 
action or publicity regarding his plan to transfer Arabs from Palestine to Iraq might well 
jeopardize the success of the proposal", and that "if these Iraqi leaders suspected that the 
plan had been formulated in Jewish circles they would almost certainly reject it." Murray thus 
recommended that "if, therefore, there is any likelihood that the President has in mind any 
such plan as that referred to in Mr. Norman's letter it would seem desirable to acquaint him 
with the background of the situation." He personally felt that it was unlikely that Roosevelt 
did have such a plan and wondered whether the report Norman had received was "not a 
garbled version of the British proposal that the Governments interested in the refugee 
question should match, pound for pound, contributions made from private sources with a view 
to a large scale settlement of the refugee problem." {^) 

Norman's "fairly reliable source" was obviously the Zionist leaders who had heard of 
this plan via Brandeis. As we know, from elsewhere in this book, the information that 
Norman had received was accurate. What is interesting however, was that top officials in 
Roosevelt's Department of State were not taken into his confidence in this matter. This might 
explain our inability to trace official letters on Roosevelt's transfer plan. 

On 3 August, Welles replied to Norman that he had submitted the latter's inquiry to 
Roosevelt and on receiving a reply answered Norman: "while the plan to which you refer in 
your letter was given very careful study by him a year and a half ago, he does not feel that 
under present conditions it would seem to be practicable." Welles also offered to meet with 
Norman to discuss this question further. (^) It is not known whether such a meeting took place. 

Contacts with Bell 

On 8 September 1939, Bell went to see Jesse John Paskin, the Principal Private Secretary 
to MacDonald, in order to offer his services for work in the Middle East, since the outbreak of 
war would interfere with the progress of Norman's scheme. (*) During this meeting. Bell told 
Paskin, that Norman had informed him after meeting with MacDonald in the previous 
January, that MacDonald "had expressed his sympathy with, and approval of this project." 

Bell now wanted to know whether MacDonald "had really approved this project, or 
was merely "being polite to an American' when he saw Mr. Norman." (^) In a handwritten 
internal note, MacDonald wrote that Shuckburgh's minute of 23 January "records what 
actually took place at my interview with Mr. Norman." (^) In a letter from Paskin to Bell, 
answering among other things, this query of Bell's, he wrote, "Mr. MacDonald asks me to 
make it clear that the position in regard to this project is that it is one which should not be 
regarded as having either the acquiescence or the encouragement of His Majesty's 
Government, and that the responsibility for it must rest solely with its sponsors." C) 

In March 1940, Weizmann wrote in a letter to Harry St John Philby that Norman was 
planning to visit the Middle East "before long". Philby, although a staunch Arab supporter 
and an anti— Zionist, had for pro-Arab reasons suggested a plan, a few months earlier, which 
incorporated the transfer of Arabs from Palestine. In his letter to Philby, Weizmann 
introduced Norman, adding that he had "been working for several years on a proposal for 
large-scale development in Irak, which I think has some merit and in which you may be 
interested." He stated that during his planned visit, Norman intended getting in touch with 
Philby. (*) A footnote in the published volume of "Weizmann's Letters", adds that there was 

/ Welles to Murray, 28 July 1939, (NA 867N.01/1649). 

/ Murray to Welles, 31 July 1939, (NA 867N.01/1649). 

/ Welles to Norman, 3 August 1939, (NA 867N.01/1649). 

/ Bell to Malcolm McDonald, [n.d.] (September 1939), (PRO CO 733/413 75906). 

/ Paskin to Shuckburgh, 8 September 1939, (PRO CO 733/413 75906). 

/ Note from Malcolm McDonald, 15 September 1939, (PRO CO 733/413 75906). 

/ Paskin to Bell, 19 September 1939, (PRO FO 371/23245 E1340). 

/ Weizmann to Philby, 3 March 1940, (WA) ; Weizmann, Letters, vol.xix, op. cit., no.233, p.242. 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

no record of Norman's meeting with Philby. (i) 

Three months later. Bell wrote that he had met with Sir Andrew McFadyean, (who 
was a member of the Council of the Royal Institute of International Affairs), whom he 
reported as one, "who agrees with the movement and believes that there must be a World 
Conference at the end of the war when the Arabs could bring forward the solution" at which 
Norman was working, f) Norman had first discussed his plans with McFadyean towards the 
end of 1937. (^) McFadyean was obviously very impressed by the plan. This we know from an 
independent source, namely, the High Commissioner for Palestine, Sir Harold MacMichael, 
who wrote that Norman's plan had been "backed" by McFadyean, and that the latter had 
left a copy of the plan with him in February 1938, before taking up his position as High 
Commissioner. (^) McFadyean again came into the picture in November 1938, when Norman 
informed Bell that if he succeeded in convincing the Iraqi statesmsn of the need for increased 
population, and financial help was thus required to absorb the new immigrants, he would 
take the matter up with McFadyean and other financiers in the City of London. (') There is 
however no record of a meeting between Norman and financiers in London, but since Bell did 
not succeed in advancing Norman's plan to the stage of implementation, this is in fact not 

Request by Bell for Permit to Travel to Iraq 

Although the outbreak of the Second World War seemed to have put a virtual stop on 
Norman's efforts to advance his plan, this was certainly not the case with Bell. Maybe the 
reason was that his livelihood depended on the continuance of the plan. However, Bell came 
up against the problem of exit visas from Britain. 

Prior to the outbreak of the war in September 1939, the British government, whilst not 
supporting Norman's transfer plan, had no power to stop Montague Bell from travelling to 
Iraq. After the commencement of the war, however, all this changed; Britain discouraged 
foreign travel, and no-one was allowed to leave the shores of Britain without an exit permit 
from the British authorities. As we shall see, senior civil servants at the Colonial Office and 
Foreign Office utilised this fact to deny Bell an exit permit and hence prevented any chance of 
implementing Norman's plan. We now know that during the Second World War, officers at 
the British Passport Control Office "were not regular foreign service employees, but members 
of MI6 [the British Secret Service] seconded to the Foreign office as a cover." ('') 

In a book by Eliahu Ben-Horin which was published in 1943, the author observed, "A 
certain project dealing with the transfer of the Palestinian Arabs to Iraq was welcomed by the 
Iraqian Government. The outbreak of the war unfortunately interrupted the negotiations over 
the materialisation of such a project." (') 

Ben-Horin did not mention the author of the project by name, but it seems very likely 
that he is referring to Norman's plan, since unlike the instigators of several other 
contemporary proposals for the transfer of Arabs to Iraq, Norman did not just make a proposal, 
but entered into actual negotiations via Bell on its implementation. 

The historian Rafael Medoff is also of the view that the transfer proposal brought by 
Ben-Horin in his book is the proposal by Norman. Furthermore Medoff holds that "it may be 
that Norman was the source of Ben-Horin's discussion of Arab transfer", (^) This, however, 
does not seem to be correct, since in a letter written by Ben-Horin to Hugh Gibson, who was co- 
author with former President Herbert Hoover of a book which contains a transfer proposal, he 
wrote that it was this book which inspired him to propose the transfer of Arabs from 

/ Weizmann, Letters, vol.xix, op. cit., no.233, p.242, fn 
2 / Comment on letter from Bell to Norman, 26 June 1940, (PRO CO 733/428 75906). 

/ First Norman Report, op. cit., p.2. 
* / MacMichael to Moyne, 1 September 1941, p.2, (PRO CO 733/444 75872/115). 
^ / Norman to Bell, 4 November 1938, op. cit. 

/ Abraham Edelheit, The Yishuv in the Shadow of the Holocaust, (Boulder, Colorado: 1996), p. 314. 
^ / Ben-Horin Eliahu, The Middle East: Crossroads of History, (New York, 1943), p.224. 

/ Rafael Medoff, "Herbert Hoover's Plan for Palestine. A Forgotten Episode in American Middle East Diplomacy", 
American Jewish History, (Waltham Massachusetts), vol.lxxix, no.4, 1990, pp.463-64. 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Palestine to Iraq, (i) 

We do know however that Ben-Horin was acquainted with Norman and his speciahties 
in Zionism, when the former wrote his book, since he sent him a copy of the manuscript for 
him to offer an "opinion and criticism" and also to "introduce small changes". (^) In his reply, 
Norman did not even comment on the "certain project dealing with the transfer of Palestinian 
Arabs to Iraq ..." which was presumably brought in this manuscript. However it is very likely 
that he did not finish reading the entire manuscript (^) by the time Ben-Horin requested its 
return. (^) 

When the book was published, Norman received an inscribed copy, and he then wrote to 
Ben-Horin commenting, "However in regard to Iraq, 1 know of no negotiations looking to the 
settlement of immigrants in the country that were carried out with the government or any 
officials. All 1 know of were very tentative and general conversations, that certainly could not 
be characterized as negotiations." (') 

However, whatever term one uses to describe the attempts for the advancement of 
Norman's transfer plan, it would be more correct to say that it was the "utilisation" of war- 
time regulations by the British officials, rather than the actual outbreak of war that 
interrupted these conversations/negotiations. It will thus be instructive to study in detail the 
progress of Bell's application for an exit permit. 

In December 1939, which was only a few months after the outbreak of war. Bell called 
at the Passport Office and handed in applications for exit permits on behalf of himself and 
his daughter, for the purpose of travelling to Iraq. He explained that the real reason for his 
journey was "to study a scheme for the transference of Arab populations in the Middle East." 
He showed the official of the Passport Office, Richard Moore, a letter from the Colonial 
Office which disclaimed official support for his mission but added that this was by way of 
"official caution". Moore said that he would refer the matter to the appropriate government 
departments and let Bell know of their decision. He added that if indeed this project had 
even the unofficial support of the Colonial Office and the Eastern Department of the Foreign 
Office, then the Passport Office could agree to grant both Bell and his daughter exit permits. 


Eight days later, the Passport Office passed on Bell's request to the Middle East 
Department of the Colonial Office to obtain their views on this request. C) In answer, the 
official, C.B.A. Darling said that Bell's mission was "not supported either officially or 
unofficially by this Dept and his application should therefore receive no special preference." 


John Sloman Bennett who sat at Palestine desk at the Colonial Office, whilst concurring 
with Darling, added that Bell had evidently tried to persuade the Passport Office that the 
letter from the Colonial Office had been "worded cautiously so as to be non-committal on 
paper, but that he has been told privately that we support him." Bennett then commented 
that "such a suggestion is quite unwarranted." (') In fact, a study of the Passport Office minute 
shows that Bell had never given such an explanation to Moore. 

The reply of Darling was obviously an invitation for the Passport Office to refuse Bell's 
request. However, Sir John Shuckburgh was prepared to take a more favourable stand. In a 
note to Sir Cosmo Parkinson, Permanent Under-Secretary at the Colonial Office, Shuckburgh 
felt that Norman had "been 'encouraged' at least to the extent of being given a personal 
interview" by the Colonial Secretary. He suggested that the Passport Office be told that 
whilst Bell's mission was not supported by the Colonial Office, they had known about it for 

/ Ben-Horin to Gibson, 11 June 1952, (HH PPI - Ben-Horin, Eliahu). 

/ Ben-Horin to Norman, 7 March 1943, (CZA A300/64). 

/ Norman to Ben-Horin, 6 April 1943, (CZA A300/64). 

/ Ben-Horin to Norman, 30 March 1943, (CZA A300/64). 

/ Norman to Ben-Horin, 3 October 1943, (CZA A300/37). 

/ Minutes of Passport Office, Richard Moore, 20 December 1939, (PRO CO 733/413 75906). 

/ R. B. to Colonial Office, Middle East Department, 28 December 1939, (PRO CO 713/413 75906). 

/ Note, Darling, 2 January 1940, (PRO CO 733/413 75906). 

/ Note, Bennett, 8 January 1940, (PRO CO 733/413 75906). 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

some two years and had never gone out their way to discourage it. He concluded that the 
Colonial Office "should not be sorry to hear that it had been found possible to meet Mr. Bell's 
wishes." (1) 

Parkinson was not so sympathetic, and in a marginal note questioned Shuckburgh's use of 
the word "encouraged" {^) and in a note to Downie wrote, "we must not let Mr. Bell get away 
with his misrepresentation" of the Colonial Office letter to him. (') 

On the basis of Shuckburgh's observation and Parkinson's amendment, Bennett drew up a 
draft answer for the Passport Office, which he took to the Eastern Department of the Forign 
Office to discuss with Harry Maurice Eyres. Eyres, however, took a less favourable view of 
this reply, feeling that it "was a little too forthcoming". (^) Therefore, using a minute written 
by Herbert Lacy Baggallay, First Secretary at the Foreign Office,(') and a letter he had 
received from Eyres, ('') Bennett proposed some amendments which were accepted by Downie 
at the Colonial Office. (') He then notified the Passport Office of the agreed views of the 
Colonial and Foreign offices. (*) 

About 25 January 1940, Bell received a reply. The actual reply has not been traced, 
although it is certainly a rejection of his application. Bell's reaction was a letter (untraced) 
written on 8 February to Sir Robert Vansittart. By some oversight, this letter remained 
unanswered until probably the beginning of April, and then once again Bell received a 
rejection of his application. 

On receiving this reply. Bell went to see Baggallay. Bell could not understand why, if 
both the Foreign Office and the Colonial Office had no objections to his journey, the Passport 
Office had declined to give him an exit visa. Baggallay pointed out to Bell that this was not 
sufficient, and that a visa would be granted only where there was some "definite reason" for 
undertaking such a journey. Bell felt it was strange that whereas his own typist, as well as 
many other British subjects, had been given permission to go abroad on mere holidays, he was 
denied permission to travel on a matter which he considered to be of "national importance". 
Bell pointed out that he had been indisposed for several weeks and as a result it was too late 
for him "to entertain the idea of visiting Iraq until the heat of the summer was over", but he 
might want to travel in the coming autumn. Baggallay advised him not to make a further 
application until then, "By that time much might have happened." (') 

It seems that in fact Bell renewed his application only at the beginning of 1941. He 
obviously realised that if he made an application in the usual manner to the Passport Office, 
it would almost certainly be rejected. He therefore first went to the India Office to see 
Leopold Amery, who referred him to Shuckburgh. Amery was obviously sympathetic to the 
transfer solution, since he himself was to propose the same idea some months later in a letter 
which he was to write to the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. 

Bell met Shuckburgh on 27 January and pointed out that he stood no chance of obtaining 
a passage by aeroplane unless either the Colonial Office or the Foreign Office informed the 
Air Ministry that they regarded his going to Iraq to be "in the public interest". He added that 
the "neutral statement", made a year earlier, to the effect that the Colonial Office had no 
objection to his travelling to Iraq was insufficient, he needed a positive recommendation. 
Shuckburgh passed the buck, and said that it was the business of the Foreign Office. (^° ) 

At the end of his conversation with Shuckburgh, Bell informed him "that his income 
depended upon his continuing his work for Mr. Norman and that for financial reasons it was 
essential to him that he should be enabled to proceed with the project." On this fact 

' / Shuckburgh to Parkinson, 9 January 1940, (PRO CO 733/413 75906). 

/ Ibid., Marginal comment by Parkinson. 
3 / Parkinson to Downie, 10 January 1940, (PRO CO 733/413 75906). 
* / Note, Bennett, 12 January 1940, (PRO CO 733/413 75906). 

^ / Minutes, Baggallay, 11 January 1940 (mistakenly dated 1939), (PRO CO 733/413 75906). 
^ / Eyres to Bennett, 11 January 1940, (PRO CO 733/413 75906). 
^ / Downie to Shuckburgh, (PRO CO 733/413 75906). 
^ / Note from Bennett, 16 January 1940, (PRO CO 733/413 75906). 

^ / Minute, Foreign Office, "Desire of Mr. Montague Bell to travel abroad", 10 April 1940, (PRO CO 733/428 75906). 
^° I Note from Shuckburgh, 28 January 1941, (PRO CO 733/428 75906). 

— 119 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Shuckburgh commented, "It is perhaps not too cynical to suggest that this is the primary 
motive underlying his persistency." O 

. Bell could see that he stood little chance of being granted an exit permit for the 
purpose of pursuing his population transfer scheme. Therefore, on the following day. Bell 
wrote to Shuckburgh stating that there was a non-political reason for his wishing to go to Iraq 
which might simplify matters. "I am to be entrusted with negotiations for a project to use 
Iraqi dates for war purposes (chemical): it is a serious scheme, but it may not be necessary to 
say more than this at the moment." (^) 

Shuckburgh passed Bell's request on to the Foreign Office. (^) A few days later. Eyres of 
the Foreign Office replied, "We have never been able to see that Mr. Bell's resettlement 
scheme was likely to be of any real interest or advantage to His Majesty's Government, and in 
the circumstances we see no particular reason why you should ask the Air Ministry to 
facilitate any part of his journey", adding, however, that they had "no objection in principle 
to Mr. Bell going out to Iraq." 

Bell's mentioning an "Iraqi date project" seems to have made an impression on Eyres, 
since he wrote in the last paragraph of his letter, "If you can convince the departments 
concerned that his date project is of importance from the point of view of our war effort, they 
might be able to help him." (^) Others, however, were not so responsive, since a note was 
added in the margin of this letter (probably by Shuckburgh), "Why we? It is for Mr. B., if 
anybody." (^) 

After receiving this reply from Eyres, Bennett of the Colonial Office, in a departmental 
note wrote, "If the Foreign Office, who are the Dept. responsible for Iraq, see no reason why 
we should ask the A/M [Air Ministry] to facilitate any part of his journey, I feel that we 
should definitely decline to help him. It seems to me that the time has come when we cannot 
avoid defining our attitude towards Mr. Bell & his plans." Significantly, Bennett ignored the 
Foreign Office comment of having "no objection in principle". He recommended that a polite 
but firm note should be written to Bell pointing out the Government's inability to intervene on 
his behalf. (^) In a concurring note, Downie added, "It is obvious to me that Mr. Bell's plan for 
encouraging this transfer of Palestinian Arabs to Iraq to make room for Jews, so far from being 
of service to H.M.G. [His Majesty's Government] is likely to embarrass us." (') 

On 5 February, Bell telephoned Shuckburgh asking him for a speedy reply to his 
application since he wanted to be back in England before the beginning of the hot Iraqi summer 
season. Shuckburgh pressed him for more details regarding his project "to use Iraqi dates for 
war purposes." Bell was rather reticent, but he did say that Weizmann was the moving spirit 
in this matter. On the following day Shuckburgh telephoned Weizmann, who told him that 
since Iraqi dates, which were cut off from their normal markets were probably running to 
waste, it might be possible to utilise them for chemical purposes in connection with the war 
effort. Weizmann had suggested to Bell that if he were going out to Iraq he might utilise this 
opportunity to look into this question as well. In reporting these two telephone conversations 
to Sir Cosmo Parkinson, Shuckburgh observed, "The Zionists are apparently favourably 
disposed towards Mr. Bell's political project: naturally, they would be." (*) 

In his official reply to Bell's application, Shuckburgh wrote that neither the Colonial 
Office nor the Foreign Office thought that they were justified in complying with his request. 
They did not feel that the circumstances to be such, as would warrant their taking so definite 
a line, as declaring his journey to be "essential in the national interest." Shuckburgh added 
that there was nothing in the Iraqi dates idea which would affect their decision in this 
matter. Although he also pointed out in his letter that neither the Colonial nor Foreign 

/ Shuckburgh to Parkinson, 11 February 1941, (PRO CO 733/444 75906). 

/ Bell to Shuckburgh, 28 lanuary 1941, (PRO CO 733/428 75906). 

/ Luke to Eyres, 30 January 1941, (PRO CO 733/428 75906). 

/ Eyres to Luke, 3 February 1941, (PRO CO 733/444 75906). 

/ Eyres to Luke, 3 February 1941, op. cit.. Marginal Note (by Shuckburgh?). 

/ Note from Bennett, 5 February 1941, (PRO CO 733/444 75906). 

/ Note from Downie, 6 February 1941, (PRO CO 733/444 75906). 

/ Shuckburgh to Parkinson, 6 February 1941, (PRO CO 733/444 75906). 

— 120 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

offices had "any desire to place obstacles" in his way {^), this was obviously an example of 
"British politeness", since the internal departmental comments in fact showed the opposite to 
be the case. 

Shuckburgh's letter angered Bell. He telephoned Shuckburgh and informed him that 
unless he changed his decision, he himself would go straight to the Prime Minister, to which 
Shuckburgh replied that he was "not very fond of listening to threats." Bell then repeated 
over and over again, that no question could be of "greater national interest than the settlement 
of the Palestine problem" and that the Government should therefore help him with his 
project which was the only one offering a chance of success. To this Shuckburgh replied that 
the Government did not share his views on the importance of his plans. (^) 

Ten days later Bell wrote to the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, summarising the 
main aims of his plan. Bell then pointed out that both the Colonial Office and the Foreign 
Office refused to consider this plan as coming under the category of "national importance" in 
order to qualify for a priority passage to the Middle East. Bell added that this plan could 
only be put through "by a non-prominent non-official, who attracts no attention, but yet has 
the confidence of the Iraqis." He asked that the Prime Minister issue a ruling which would 
enable him to receive an exit permit. (^) 

Sir John Martin, a private secretary to Churchill (and formerly secretary to the Peel 
Commission) sent copies of Bell's letter to both the Foreign Office C) and the Colonial Office 
(^) for their comments. 

He also sent an acknowledgment to Bell and said that he would receive a reply as soon 
as possible. (^) Bell did not however wait for such a reply and a few days later "called" 
Martin (presumably by telephone). He asked Martin what he thought of the scheme but the 
latter "refused to be drawn on that, but asked him [Bell] to explain it further." In his answer. 
Bell recognised that there were "practical difficulties of migration" but suggested that 
initially this transfer be done on a small scale and hoped that as a result, the Iraqi 
authorities would then implement a larger scheme. 

Martin commented that Bell did "not ask for official approval of his proposal" but just 
"for assistance in getting to Iraq to make further progress with it." Bell said that without 
such approval he had little hope in arriving in Iraq "for many months." (') 

There is a note dated 28 February from Downing Street (the Prime Minister's Office) on 
this project. It was pointed out that there was no evidence that the Iraqi government would be 
willing to make such a request for the transfer of Arabs from Palestine "and it is indeed 
incredible that they would do so, since the whole purpose of the transfer would be to 
facilitate a new large Jewish immigration into Palestine. For the same reason it is certain 
that the Palestinian Arabs would reject any such proposal outright, and therefore that the 
transfer, if carried out at all, would have to be done forcibly." The note went on to point out 
that when the Peel Commission had proposed such a transfer it "caused great indignation 
among the Arabs of Palestine" and any suggestion that the British Government would revive 
such a plan "would have the most dangerous political repercussions." (^) 

In answer to Martin's request, Bennett of the Colonial Office prepared a memorandum on 
the subject. Whilst outlining the plan, Bennett described it as "thoroughly amateurish and 
impractical." As in the note from Downing Street, Bennett pointed out that the principle of 
population transfer to solve the Palestine problem dated back to the Peel Commission and 

^ / (Draft), Shuckburgh to Bell, February 1941, (PRO CO 733/444 75906). 

/ Shuckburgh to Parkinson, 11 February 1941, op. cit. 
3 / Bell to Prime Minister, 21 February 1941, (PRO CO 733/444 75906). 
^ I Martin to Mallet, 22 February 1941, (Churchm Archives CHAR 20/24/51). 

^ / Martin to Eastwood, 22 February 1941, (Churchill Archives CHAR 20/24/49); Martin to Eastwood, 22 February 
1941, (PRO CO 733/444 75906). 

^ / Martin to Bell, 22 February 1941, (Churchill Archives CHAR 20/24/50). 
^ / Note by Martin, 26 February 1941, (ChurchUl Archives CHAR 20/24/52). 

/ Note on Mr. Montague Bell's Project, Downing Street (Prime Minister's Office), 28 February 1941, (Churchill 
Archives CHAR 20/24/53); Note on Mr. Montague Bell's Project, Downing Street (Prime Minister's Office), 28 
February 1941, (PRO CO 733/444 75906). 

— 121 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

that it was this recommendation, more than any other single factor in the Peel Report "which 
excited the fear and hatred of the Arabs of Palestine and contributed largely to popular 
backing for the Arab rebellion." Bennett wrote that "the Montague Bell scheme involves the 
removal of about a million Arabs" and he considered that there was not the slightest reason 
to suppose that the Arabs would go willingly nor that the Iraqi Government would request 
their transfer. "The only purpose of such a move would be to turn the whole of Palestine over 
to the Jews." Bennett felt that the major fallacy of this scheme was that it was built on the 
assumption that "all the Arabs of Palestine want is 'living space"' when in fact their whole 
political conviction is that "Palestine is an Arab country." In conclusion, Bennett wrote that 
there was "no reason for us to relax our refusal to give Mr. Bell official backing." (i) 

Following this memorandum, the Colonial Office (^) wrote to Martin, recommending 
that the Prime Minister not agree "that Mr. Bell's journey to Iraq is of a character to warrant, 
in these difficult time, a priority passage." In a similar vein, the Foreign Office wrote that 
they could "see no reason why Mr. Bell should receive any official support for his self- 
imposed mission to Iraq." (') 

Since by the 3 March, Bell had not heard from Martin, he sent him a letter. He wrote 
that "the sympathetic hearing you gave me last week prompts me to believe that I shall yet 
hear a favourable answer from Mr. Churchill, and that I shall be allowed to go out by air, as 
the season in Iraq is already well advanced." He added that since this was his "sole means of 
livelihood", he hoped they would be more inclined to grant his request. (^) 

Martin, who was at that time out of town, had Bell's letter forwarded to him. He 
replied to Anthony Bevir (another of Churchill's private secretaries): "I expect that by now 
he has been given his answer - presumably 'no', though I am sorry because I liked him and 
think there may be something in his scheme." (') We should remember that Martin had been 
secretary to the Peel Commission and thus his remark "that there may be something in his 
scheme" was made with an extensive background knowledge of the situation in Palestine. 

Bevir sent Bell's letter together with a note to Churchill, in which he wrote that "the 
Foreign Office and Colonial Office did not recommend that facilities should be given." (^) 
Churchill annotated this note in his own handwriting with the comment "civil disengage" C) 
- a euphemistic term for saying no politely. 

On 8 March, Bevir thus wrote to Bell saying that the Prime Minister "regrets that he 
cannot see his way to making arrangements for you to have special facilities for a priority 
passage for a journey to Iraq to deal with the project which you have in mind." (^) 

Bell did not give up and at the beginning of July again wrote (letter untraced) to Martin. 
In reply Martin wrote that the Prime Minister could not intervene in this matter and his letter 
was being forwarded to the Foreign Office. (') At the same time Martin asked the Foreign 
Office to deal with Bell directly. C°) 

Obviously, Bell's application for an exit visa was again rejected, although the letter to 
him has not been traced. We can see however, that the opposition to Norman's transfer plan 
by the British government officials had in fact intensified since the previous year. 

Change in Attitude of Anieiican Governnient 

About the end of 1941, Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky was urging Norman to further his Iraq 
project. Velikovsky was born in Russia in 1895. His father was, with Herzl, one of the 

' / Memorandum from Bennett, 26 February 1941, (PRO CO 733/444 75906). 

2 / Eastwood to Martin, 28 February 1941, (Churchill Archives CHAR 20/24/54); (Draft), Eastwood to Martin, 
February 1941, (PRO CO 733/444 75906). 

3 / Mallet to Martin, 4 March 1941, (PRO CO 733/444 75906). 

^ I Bell to Martin, 3 March 1941, (Churchill Archives CHAR 20/24/55). 

^ / Martin to Bevir, 5 March 1941, (Churchill Archives CHAR 20/24/57). 

^ / Bevir to Prime Minister, 6 March 1941, (ChurchUl Archives CHAR 20/24/59). 

^ /Ibid. 

^ / Bevir to Bell, 8 March 1941, (ChurchUl Archives CHAR 20/24/60). 

'^ I Martin to Bell, 8 July 1941, (Churchill Archives CHAR 20/24/70). 

^^ / Martin to Mallet, 8 July 1941, (ChurchUl Archives CHAR 20/24/69). 

— 122 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

founders of modern political Zionism. Immanuel Velikovsky was a prominent scientist who 
had put forward the idea that a great natural catastrophe had taken place at the period of 
the Exodus from Egypt. He then researched this idea and wrote his books "Ages in Chaos" and 
"Worlds in Collision". Between 1924 and 1939, he lived in Palestine, but after that he took up 
residence in the United States. 

Asa result of Velikovsky's urging, Norman invited a number of people to a meeting at 
his house. At this meeting, he said that he had reached the stage in this matter where he 
was no longer willing to proceed entirely on his own initiative, without any other Jewish 
leaders being willing to share with him in the responsibilities of thinking through the 
practical plan of action to be pursued, (i) 

A few months later, at the beginning of March 1942, Norman wrote a memorandum 
entitled "The Jews and the Post-War World" (^) which he submitted a few weeks later during 
a meeting with the State Department. In his memorandum, Norman wrote that as a result of 
the "racial" policies of "totalitarian" governments, the Jews of Europe would find it very 
difficult to rehabilitate financially after the war. He felt it might be beneficial if a large 
proportion of the Jews were to leave Europe, but the difficulty would be in finding a country 
which would be ready to accept them. (^) 

Norman stated that research on this question had shown that the only suitable area for 
Jewish settlement was Palestine. There were however at that time restrictions on Jewish 
immigration to Palestine as a result of the opposition of the Arab leaders. 

Norman's solution to this was "if a large proportion of the Arabs of Palestine could be 
induced to leave the country and to settle elsewhere." He went on to summarise the work 
which he himself had done in this field since 1938. (*) He felt that the time was ripe "for 
taking the matter in hand again, perhaps with more boldness than previously." Norman 
considered that the government of Iraq was firmly in the hands of Nuri es Said, who was 
considering declaring war on the Axis. In contrast to this, the former Mufti was carrying on 
intensive propaganda among the Arabs, "particularly in Palestine, in favor of the Axis." 
Norman felt that the anti-Axis cause could be assisted "if the attention of the Palestinian 
Arabs could be diverted to a scheme whereby they might be able to better themselves, 
particularly as they are now known to be desirous to sell their land in Palestine at almost any 
price, in fear of an Axis invasion." (') 

Amongst his conclusions, Norman felt that "if the matter were to be taken in hand very 
soon, it might be possible at the very least to cause the government of Iraq publicly to offer the 
necessary land to Arab settlers from Palestine." (^) 

On 25 March, Murray wrote to Norman, pointing out that since their recent meeting 
"information has come in to the effect that Nuri Pasha's position is far from stable" and that 
the State department "are not inclined to believe that the approach which you have in mind 
would be practicable in present circumstances." (') 

Norman obviously could not refute Murray's statement regarding the instability of Nuri 
Pasha's position. He therefore in his reply considerably modified the views he expressed in 
his memorandum and said that although none of the governments in the Middle East could be 
considered very stable, in order to accomplish something, one had to deal with such 
"governments as one finds them." Norman proposed giving very careful thought to this entire 
question and was of the opinion that "if the present government of Iraq, insecure though it 
may be at the present juncture, should make a public offer of land for settlement by Arab 
peasants from outside of Iraq, it would be very difficult, in the event of an anti-Axis victory in 
the war, for any subsequent government of Iraq to repudiate this offer." (^) 

/ Norman to Weizmann, 13 May 1942, (CZA Z5/1391). 

/ Edward Norman, "The Jews and the Post-War World", (NA 840.4016/15). 

/ Ibid., 1 - Europe, II - The World at Large. 

/ Ibid., Ill - Palestine, IV - Iraq. 

/ Ibid., V - The Present Situation. 

/ Ibid., VI - Conclusion. 

. Murray to Norman, 25 March 1942, (NA 840.4016/15). 

/ Norman to Murray, 27 March 1942, (NA 840.4016/16). 

— 123 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

The fact that emerges from the Norman-Murray exchanges is that the positive attitude 
of the American Government towards the Norman plan in the late 1930s had completely 
evaporated by 1942. In contrast to this. President Roosevelt, continued in private to support 

In a letter to Weizmann, written in May of that year, Norman said that he had gone to 
the State Department to suggest that he "be sent to Iraq in some capacity or other for the 
United States Government" so that he could pursue this scheme. They considered his 
suggestion but politely declined it! In his letter to Weizmann, he thus concluded: "Until now I 
have been unable to think of any other way of accomplishing anything, unless I can obtain a 
berth in the Army that would take me to Iraq. I am now feeling out my way in this direction." 


It was soon after that period, that Loy Henderson, the U.S. Minister to Iraq expressed 
the view that such a transfer of Arabs to Iraq would be "most helpful" This occurred at a 
meeting at the U.S. State Department between Henderson and Dr. Nahum Goldmann on 23 
September 1943. 

At this meeting, Henderson asked Goldmann for his frank opinion on "the eventual 
transfer of the Arabs to Iraq". According to the minutes of this meeting, written up by 
Goldmann, Goldmann replied that such transfer was not part of the Zionist demands and that 
there was enough room in Palestine for the Arabs. "However", he continued, "if the Arabs 
wanted, voluntarily, to be transferred, Zionists would be willing to help them in acquiring 
and developing land in Iraq". 

To this Henderson replied that "he understood the Zionist attitude and thought it wise, 
but he thought if a transfer could be arranged, it would be most helpful". 

Goldmann then answered "that the Zionists were a democratic people and would not ask 
any Arab to remain in Palestine if he preferred to go to Iraq, to which Mr. Henderson replied 
'This is very generous of you'" (^). 

Furthermore, at about that period, a number of Americans, both Jewish and non-Jewish 
published articles advocating Arab transfer. 

One of these advocates was Oscar Janowsky, Associate Professor of History in the City 
College of New York, who, towards the end of 1943 published an article entitled "Zionism 
Today" in "The Menorah Journal". In this article, he pointed out that were Palestine not 
inhabited by non-Jews, a Jewish State would be the logical result of Jewish immigration. Thus 
he declared, "If considerable numbers of Arabs could be transferred from Palestine to 
neighboring countries, a Jewish State would likewise be feasible." He felt that the "lure of 
good land plus other incentives might then induce large numbers of Palestine Arabs to move 
eastward." In listing the points for "The Essentials of a Sound Zionist Position", Janowsky 
stated that a plan involving the "reclamation of large areas in Iraq, for example, might 
induce considerable numbers of Palestine Arabs voluntarily to migrate to new and more fertile 
lands." C) 

.Earlier in the same year, the novelist Ludwig Lewisohn, writing about the conscience of 
Christendom on the martyrdom of European Jewry, asked "does Christendom care so little for 
its ethical integrity that it cannot envisage the resettlement of half or more of the 
Palestinian Arabs in the congenial and broad and sparsely settle Kingdom of Iraq?" (*) 

This was not the first time that Lewisohn had proposed Arab transfer A few years 
earlier, in his book entitled "The Answer", Lewisohn had written, "If man were not still a 
barbarian, there would be founded a great international bank to buy out the 1,000,000 Arabs in 
Eretz Yisrael and to resettle them in Iraq, in Arabia, in North Africa... Gentiles ought to 
finance this undertaking." (') 

^ / Norman to Weizmann, 13 May 1942, op. cit. 

/ Minute of Conversation with Mr. Loy Henderson, U.S. Minister to Iraq, State Department Wastiington D.C., 23 
September 1943, p.l, (CZA Z5/666). 

/ Oscar Janowsky, "Zionism Today", The Menorah Journal, (New York), vol.xxxi, no. 3, October - December 1943, 

/ Ludwig Lewisohn, "VigUance and Vigilantes", The New Palestine, (New York), vol.xxxiii, no.5, 8 January 1943, p.8. 

/ Ludwig Lewisohn, The Answer, (New York, 1939), p. 188. 

— 124 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

During 1943, Walter Duranty, a non-Jewish veteran correspondent of the "New York 
Times" writing on the rights of the Arabs in Palestine stated that in a Jewish state "provision 
would be made for the fair treatment of the Arab minority, and such Arabs as were unwilling 
to accept the change could retire to Arabia or anywhere else they liked." (i) 

At the end of the following year, Ruth Karpf, wife of Maurice Karpf, a non-Zionist 
member of the Jewish Agency, suggested that in exchange for the Jews agreeing to finance and 
organise the development of Transjordan, Transjordan would "declare its readiness to receive 
within its boundaries all Palestinian Arabs who prefer to live in an all-Arab community." (^) 

Also at the end of 1944, a proposal for transfer was made by Roberto Bachi, who was 
Professor of Statistics and Demography at the Hebrew University Jerusalem. In a secret 
detailed memorandum on his forecasts for the Jewish and Arab populations in Palestine in the 
decades to follow, he stated that the birthrate of Arabs in Palestine was the highest in the 
world (^) and even with a Jewish immigration of one million within the following five years, 
the Jewish population of Palestine would after about sixty years have dropped to between 
about one fifth and one third of the total population. C) A solution which he put forward to 
solve this problem was for the Jews "to create financial or political conditions" to allow 
peaceful transfer of "a large part" of the Arabs of Palestine to other countries. (') 

Further Developments 

In a report written by Norman in October 1942, he stated that he had taken no further 
steps in his project since the outbreak of war in September 1939. (^) However, this conflicts 
with the fact that he had been in contact with the American Government in March 1942 and 
also that during 1941, a number of letters were exchanged between Bell and Norman, although 
the only one which has been traced was written by Bell on 9 October. In this letter. Bell 
referred to Norman's letter of 7 October, in which the latter asked Bell for a "concrete plan of 
procedure". In answer. Bell wrote that he was "strongly of opinion that the movement for 
federation is invaluable to the carrying out of the [transfer] Scheme, and I would like to see 
the two combined." He felt that "the desire for federation exists" and that it was "sine qua 
non that any federal project has to incorporate the Scheme". Many of the details would have 
to be determined by the actual course of the events. Bell felt that it might be necessary to get 
the transfer scheme working before pressing for federation. (') 

In December 1941, Norman had a meeting with Ben-Gurion. Norman was obviously 
having doubts about his plan, because he asked Ben-Gurion whether he should continue with 
it. Ben-Gurion advised him to continue, even though there was not much hope of success. (*) 

A month later, in a letter to Weizmann, Bell again expressed concern regarding the 
setting up of a federation without incorporating transfer. At that time, ideas were being 
tossed around the British ministries regarding the establishment of an Arab Federation of 
States which was to have included a Jewish State. Bell hoped that nothing would be done in 
this direction until he resumed his mission, which he hoped to do by September. Were the 
federation to be set up without this population transfer, it would be much more difficult to 
incorporate it later, since there would be an "inevitable tendency to avoid further changes." 
Bell asked that if Weizmann, who was about to leave for America, agreed with this 
reasoning, he should impress it on Norman, when he met with him. (') Weizmann's trip to 

^ / Walter Duranty, "A People Without A Country", The New Palestine, (New York), vol. xxxiii, no.l2, 16 April 1943, 

/ Ruth Karpf, "A New Deal for the Near East", The New Palestine, (New York), vol.xxxv, no.5, 15 December 1944, 

/ Roberto Bachi, Memorandum, Political Conclusions from my Research on the Demographic Development of Jews 
and Arabs in Palestine, December 1944, p.l, (CZA S25/8223). 
* / Ibid., p.5. 
5 / Ibid. 

/ Norman, Supplementary Memorandum, op. cit., p.2. 
7 / Bell to Norman, 9 October 1941, (PRO CO 733/444 75906). 

/ Ben-Gurion, Diary entry for 9 December 1941, op. cit. 
^ / Bell to Weizmann, 15 January 1942, (WA). 

— 125 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

America was delayed by a few months, due to the death of his son, an R.A.F. pilot. In May of 
that year, Norman called on Weizmann in New York. Weizmann, however, was not at home 
and he subsequently wrote to Norman that he hoped to see him soon. (^) It is not recorded 
whether they actually met. 

Also that month. Bell met with Sir Maurice Peterson of the Foreign Office to discuss 
Norman's plan and to request assistance for a travel permit to Iraq. He felt that "the chances 
of success for this scheme would be greatly enhanced if it could be combined with the tactful 
promotion of a scheme of Arab Federation." In reply, Peterson said that a lot of people were 
thinking of how to solve the Palestine problem, and that he should consult the Foreign Office 
nearer to the autumn regarding an exit permit. (^) 

A few days after this meeting, Peterson spoke with Sir Harold MacMichael, the High 
Commissioner for Palestine, who was familiar with Norman's plan. According to Peterson, 
MacMichael "has no objection to the scheme in principle - rather favours it in fact - but is 
doubtful of the possibility of moving Arab villagers, which .he thinks do not possess the 
necessary cohesion, 'en masse'." (^) 

Confirmation of the positive views of the High Commissioner Sir Harold MacMichael 
on the transfer of Arabs from Palestine comes from a letter written by Norman to Solomon 
Goldman at the end of 1938. Norman had met with MacMichael soon after he had been 
appointed High Commissioner for Palestine, and at this meeting discussed Norman's plan. 
According to Norman, MacMichael "expressed hearty approval of the whole idea, and even 
went as far as to say that if it would not be possible to place a sufficient number of Arabs in 
Iraq to ease the situation in Palestine, he thought that he could be of help in settling the 
balance in the Sudan, where he had previously been Governor General." (^) 

It is of interest to note here, that in contrast to the hostile attitude of the British 
government ministries, the British High Commissioner to Palestine favoured the Norman 
plan, although he had doubts on certain of its aspects. 

It seems that Bell had in early 1942, been continuing his efforts to get an exit permit, 
since in May of that year. Eyres of the Foreign Office had written in an internal minute, "Mr. 
Bell has been worrying the P.M. [Prime Minister], the CO. and ourselves [the P.O.] for a 
priority passage to Iraq." (Whether Eyres was referring to Bell's contact with the P.M. in 
February 1941, or whether he had made further contact, is not clear from this minute.) Eyres 
reiterated that the P.O. had "always taken the line that we could not say that his self- 
imposed mission is one of national importance ... There seems to be no reason to change our 
views." He concluded by suggesting that the real reason that Bell wanted to go to Iraq was 
that "he is not a rich man and the loss of the salary which he was paid to investigating the 
possibilities of the scheme is a serious matter to him." (') 

From the contents of this minute. Bell obviously did not receive the required exit-permit 
and in addition, there is no record of his going to Iraq that year. 

In October 1942, Norman began again in earnest to revive his plan. In a memorandum 
written that month, Norman noted that there were a number of new factors in relation to Iraq 
which appeared to make a start towards carrying out his plan possible and desirable. The 
transfer of peasants from the badly eroded hills and mountains of Palestine to the far more 
fertile and more easily cultivated rich alluvial land of Iraq, would enable them to produce a 
considerable surplus of grains and fodder. These urgently required foodstuffs would not only 
supply the resident populations of the area, but also the large numbers of British, American 
and other United Nations troops serving in the region. (^) 

Norman did not feel that "any insuperable difficulties would be encountered in inducing 
Palestinian Arab peasants to proceed to Iraq to cultivate the land." The use of "intelligent 

/ Weizmann Letters, vol.xx, op. cit., no.284, p.295. 

2 / Foreign Office Minute, Sir Maurice Peterson, 4 May 1942 (PRO FO 371/31337 E2820/49/65). 

3 / Ibid., 12 May 1942, (PRO FO 371/31337 E2820/49/65). 
/ Norman to Goldman, 22 December 1938, op. cit. 

^ / Foreign Office Minute, Eyres, 8 May 1942, (PRO FO 371/31337 E2820/49/65). 
/ Norman, Supplementary Memorandum, op. cit., pp.2-3. 

— 126 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

and careful propaganda methods" could be utilised to persuade them of the economic and 
spiritual advantages of migrating to Iraq and restoring it to its former glory and power. He 
downplayed the criticism regarding the differences in climate between Palestine and Iraq, 
and concluded that it should "not prove to be a serious deterrent". (^) 

In April 1943, a Christian Palestinian citizen named Francis A. Kettaneh submitted a 
memorandum to the British Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden in which he proposed the 
establishment of a Jewish Home in the Cameroons. In the course of this memorandum he wrote 
that Norman had "widely distributed a memorandum in which he urges that the United 
Nations forcibly expatriate and transplant all Arabs, whether Moslem or Christian out of 
Palestine and settle them in Iraq. This action is urged so as to make place immediately for one 
million Jews who could immediately immigrate into the country." {^) In the absence of this 
memorandum of Norman's, it is difficult to assess how objectively Kettaneh, was representing 
the intentions of Norman. 

At the end of 1943, Bell had discussions with an unnamed person in the Zionist 
Organisation regarding his return to Iraq to resume his work, (^) but it seems to have gone no 
further than the discussion stage, since there is no record of Bell's returning to Iraq. (^) From 
the indices to the "Correspondence of the Foreign Office", (') we know that Bell put in an 
application in both 1943 and 1944 to travel to Iraq. Unfortunately, however, the appropriate 
files of the Foreign Office have not been preserved. (^) We do, however, know from a letter 
written by Bell in August 1942, that he "had received (this time unsolicited) information from 
the P.O. [Foreign Office] that as soon as I [Bell] am prepared to go out [to Iraq], I could count on 
the necessary facilities. A volte-face from two years ago." (') However, as we shall see later, 
the problem was then was one of financing his trip to Iraq. 

Although there is no record of Bell's involvement with the plan after 1944, Norman 
still continued his efforts. On 3 October 1945, Norman brought out a short memorandum 
entitled "A Fundamental Solution of the Palestinian Problem", in which he considerably 
toned down his expectations. In it he referred to the resolution of the British Labour Party 
which included the clause, "Let the Arabs be encouraged to move out, as the Jews move in." 
This resolution had been passed almost unanimously at their Annual Conference of 1944, and 
was again reiterated at the following year's Annual Conference. 

Norman pointed out that the Palestine problem was not insoluble "particularly if the 
statesmanlike suggestion for Arab resettlement elsewhere" contained in this resolution were 
to be considered. Norman at this time maintained that from the economic standpoint it would 
not be necessary to transfer the Arabs, but that there might be non-Jews living in the country 
who would not care to continue living there or "agree to remain peaceable" in the event of the 
immigration of a large number of Jews being permitted. At that period Jewish immigration 
had been almost completely barred by the British. Norman therefore suggested that those 
Arabs who did not wish to remain in Palestine be offered a practical alternative place to 
settle. He said that it should not be necessary to compel any non-Jews to emigrate from the 
country, but that it would be necessary for the governing authority to suppress by police action 
any forcible attempts to interfere with Jewish immigration or attacks on Jews or their 
property. Norman said that anyone who objected to such Jewish immigration "would be faced 
with the alternatives of peaceful acquiescence or of emigrating." To enable the 
implementation of this second alternative for those who would not have a place to emigrate 
to, or would not have the money to go there, Norman suggested that it be made possible for 

1 /Ibid.,p.3. 

2 / Memorandum, Francis A. Kettaneh to Foreign Secretary Antimony Eden, AprU 1943, p.2, (PRO FO 371/35034 

^ / Norman to Weizmann, 28 December 1943, (WA). 

/ Weizmann Letters, vol.xxi, (Jerusalem, 1979), no. 117, p. 117, fn. 

/ Index to the Correspondence of the Foreign Office for the Year 1943, part 1, A to D, (Nendeln/ Liechtenstein, 
1972), p. 376 ; Index to the Correspondence of the Foreign Office for the Year 1944, part 1, A to D, 
(Nendeln/Liechtenstein, 1972), p. 345. 

/ Private Communication from PRO, 16 January 1989. 
^ / Bell to Brodetsky, 5 August 1942, (CZA Z4/14626) 

— 127 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

these Arabs to settle in Iraq, (i) 

However, as we shall soon see, just a few weeks later Norman was to return to his 
original bold plan. 

Remuneration to Bell 

Until about mid-1940. Bell's retainer and all expenses including his two trips to Iraq 
were paid for by Norman. {^) After that date he stopped paying Bell his retainer, (^) thus 
putting the continuation of the scheme (and also Bell's financial situation!) in jeopardy. 
Because of this. Bell tried to get the Zionist Organisation to help in this matter. Following a 
meeting with Professor Selig Brodetsky in mid-November 1940, Bell wrote to him clarifying 
the points he had made at this meeting. 

Bell pointed out that because Norman had wanted to accompany Bell on his next visit to 
Iraq during the winter of 1939-40, he had postponed his departure until it was too late to go 
out that winter. Only towards the summer of 1940 had he suggested that Bell go out by 
himself, but by that time summer was approaching and for various reasons Bell felt that it 
was not the time to go and instead he suggested September or October. Norman replied that 
not much could be done during the war and the plan should thus be postponed until after the 
war. Meanwhile he would not be able to continue paying Bell his retaining fee. 

Bell however considered that it was important that his work be continued without 
interruption and he gave his own assessment of the political situation. In addition he was 
very concerned with the loss of his retaining fee. 

He asked that the Zionist Organisation should tell Norman that the scheme should be 
carried on despite the war and that they should pay him the retaining fee for the period that 
Norman had not paid him. He did not know whether they would be prepared to discuss with 
Norman any further financing by him of the scheme. (*) 

Brodetsky reported on his meeting with Bell to the Jewish Agency Executive and sent 
them a copy of his letter. (^) 

A few days later Bell's request was discussed by this Executive. Weizmann felt that 
"Bell should be put in a position to carry on his work," and suggested that Brodetsky, should 
find out how much money would be necessary for this purpose, with a ceiling of 500 pounds. It 
would seem that Weizmann intended the Zionist Organisation to advance money for the 
continuation of efforts to obtain a successful conclusion to the Norman plan. He hoped that 
Norman would repay any monies thus advanced to Bell. (^) In December 1940, Weizmann 
made an advance payment to Bell C) - amount not known. 

In a further letter written by Bell to Brodetsky after this meeting, he began by saying 
that he was "glad to learn that you and your colleagues are of opinion that the work already 
begun in the Middle East should be continued without undue delay.... I hold myself at your 
disposal to return to Iraq as soon as possible." He then informed him of the details of 
payments which had been made to him by Norman. He pointed out that even if Norman 
would tell him to go to Iraq "tomorrow" and pay him as in the past, he would find it very 
difficult to go without having received the back-pay. Bell seemed to favour an arrangement 
in which Norman together with the Zionist Organisation would jointly finance the scheme. 


About a month and a half later, the Acting political Secretary of the Zionist 
Organisation, Joseph Linton, wrote to Bell: "Dr. Weizmann has asked me to let you know that 
he hopes it will shortly be possible to make definite arrangements for your journey.... Dr. 
Weizmann trusts it will be possible for him to arrange an early appointment with you in order 

/ Edward Norman, A Fundamental Solution of the Palestine Problem, 3 October 1945, (CZA A246/29/1). 

/ First Norman Report, op. cit., pp.3-4. 

/ Comment on letter from Bell to Norman, 26 lune 1940, (PRO CO 733/428 75906). 

/ Bell to Brodetsky, 15 November 1940, (CZA Z4/14626). 

/ Brodetsky to The Executive, 21 November 1940, (CZA Z4/ 14626). 

/ Minutes, J. A. Exec, London, 28 November 1940, p.5, (CZA Z4/302/24). 

/ Bell to Weizmann, 15 January 1942, op. cit. 

/ Bell to Brodetsky, 3 December 1940, (CZA Z4/ 14626). 

— 128 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

to discuss the final arrangements." (^) 

A few weeks later, Linton wrote "to confirm the financial arrangements on which we 
have agreed in connection with your journey to Iraq." Details of the payments then follow: A 
payment of 300 pounds to cover the six months when he received no payment from Norman; 
remuneration of 75 pounds per month from January 1941; travelling expenses and the cost of a 
return journey to Iraq. He added that "the above payments are of course subject to your being 
able to travel to Iraq this spring season ... and the arrangement is limited to a period of six 
months... The question of continuing the work after that date, and of any subsequent journey to 
Iraq, will be decided by Dr. Weizmann on the basis of your report, and in the light of 
circumstances as they may exist at the time." (^) 

As we have seen earlier, during the war one required a travel permit to leave Britain. 
As soon as Bell learned of this offer from the Zionist Organisation he tried desperately to 
receive such a permit, even going as far as to appeal to the Prime Minister, Winston 
Churchill. But all to no avail! 

As a result of this refusal for such a permit, on 10 March, Linton informed Bell that the 
Zionist Organisation "did not see its way" to pay Bell "anything" since he could not "go out at 
once to Iraq." (^) In reply Bell asked that, in order to be in a position to continue his work after 
the summer, Linton should "arrange for an immediate grant, or loan, of 500 pounds to be 
recovered" by the Zionist Organisation from Norman. (*) 

It would thus seem that he received no such money, since on 31 March, Norman wrote to 
Weizmann saying that he had "received an airmail letter from Montague Bell, which 
indicates that he is in pretty bad financial shape, which makes our further discussion 
somewhat urgent." (^) In his reply Weizmann agreed to such a meeting. (^) No details of such 
a meeting have been traced. 

On 8 September 1941, Bell had a meeting with Weizmann and following this meeting 
telegraphed Norman asking him to arrange for the resumption of the work. He made it clear 
that until he had the funds to pay for a passage to Iraq, he was not even prepared to apply for 
such a passage. C) 

At that period. Bell wrote to Doris May, Weizmann's private secretary in London, 
asking whether Weizmann really wanted him to go to Iraq? (^) Whether he also asked such a 
question to Linton, or whether May passed on Bell's letter to Linton is not known. However, 
Linton wrote to Bell that "my own impression is that he [Weizmann] is really keen on the 
idea [of Bell going to Iraq]." (') 

In a letter to Norman written in the second week of October, Bell again said he had to 
have the money for the fares to Iraq before he could ask for a ticket." (^°) Nearly two weeks 
later, Weizmann cabled Norman: "Montague [Bell] asking urgently for payment stop is 
prepared to leave immediately stop please settle matter." (^^ ) 

A few weeks later, in a meeting between Norman and Ben-Gurion, Norman asked 
whether he should continue with his Iraq plan. "It costs 100 Palestinian pounds a month [plus] 
100 Palestinian pounds for expenses." Ben-Gurion advised him to continue. (^^) It is clear from 
various letters of that period, that Norman was not at that time actually paying Bell this 
sum each month, but was just telling Ben-Gurion what it would cost to continue with his Iraq 

' / Linton to Bell, 14 lanuary 1941, (CZA Z4/14626). 

2 / Linton to Bell, 27 lanuary 1941, (CZA Z4/14626). 

3 / Bell to Weizmann, 10 March 1941, (WA). 
^ I Ibid. 

^ / Norman to Weizmann, 31 March 1941, (CZA Z5/1391). 
^ / Weizmann to Norman, 6 AprU 1941, (CZA Z5/1391). 
^ / Bell to Weizmann, 23 September 1941, (CZA Z4/14626). 
^ / Bell to May, 26 September 1941, (CZA Z4/ 14626). 
"^ I Linton to Bell, 29 September 1941, (CZA Z4/14626). 
^^ / Bell to Norman, 9 October 1941, op. cit. 

" / Telegram, Weizmann to Norman, 21 November 1941, (CZA Z4/14626). 
/ David Ben-Gurion, Handwritten Diary entry 9 December 1941, (BGA). 

— 129 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

During 1941, when Weizmann was in the United States, he succeeded in arranging for 
250 pounds to be given to Bell and, also probably due to Weizmann's efforts, Norman paid him 
500 pounds. (1) 

Bell also refers to an outlay of 2500 pounds by Weizmann. (^) This was the first 
installment of a 10,000 pounds bribe given to Suwaidy, the Foreign Minister of Iraq, to 
encourage him to support Norman's transfer plan. (^) It is possible that this money was 
underwritten by Norman himself. (*) We do know that Norman was "very pleased" about the 
meeting with Suwaidy on this matter. (^) There is no record of any further installment being 
paid. ('') 

In January 1942, Bell wrote to Weizmann that in order to return to Iraq in September 
1942, he would require at least another 500 pounds. (') A few months later, Weizmann wrote to 
Norman that he was under the impression that he, Norman, was going to settle the financial 
matter with Bell. Weizmann pointed out that Bell was "in great difficulties and it would be a 
pity if he were to nurse a grievance against us", and Weizmann trusted that Norman would 
take care of this problem. (^) [A footnote in Weizmann's printed book of letters states that no 
reply by Norman to this letter of Weizmann's was traced. (') In fact this reply can be found in 
the Central Zionist Archives.] 

In his reply Norman writes that he could not understand this attitude of Bell's since he 
had during 1941 given him 580 pounds - (Bell reports this sum as 500 pounds!) - and even 
Weizmann had agreed that this was an adequate "severance payment". Norman writes: "I 
cannot see that I am under any further obligation to him now in any way.... When I first 
employed Mr. Bell, as of February 1, 1938, he was without employment, and as far as I could 
tell without prospects of employment, so that I think he did very well, in the material sense, 
during the period that he received remuneration from me." (^° ) 

A month later, Norman wrote to Weizmann asking "whether or not you will be able to 
secure a sum like $10,000.00 with which we could send Mr. Bell to continue the work that was 
begun several years ago." (^^) On the same day, the two of them met together and they 
discussed no fewer than three letters and a cablegram which Bell had sent Norman during the 
previous two months. They were in complete agreement on the importance of taking up the 
work again but the sticking point was the finance. Norman said he was unable to carry the 
burden by himself. Weizmann said that "the burden should rest on a broader foundation" and 
"that it might be possible for him to obtain the necessary for a year's work, but it would take 
some days for him to see if he could do so." (^^ ) 

After a further month, Weizmann wrote to Norman: "With regard to Bell: - I have not 
failed to give this matter consideration. As you know his activities will require a 
considerable amount of money, which, as soon as we have it, will be forwarded." (^' ) 

No further developments on this subject have been traced until the end of 1943. It was 
then that Bell had discussions with the Zionist Organisation and came to "satisfactory 
arrangements" regarding his "pay and expenses". The Zionist Organisation was unwilling, 
however, to include his previous debts and Norman wrote to Weizmann that this fact had 
"rather surprised" him, since it was proper to regard these debts as part of the aggregate. (^* ) 
Weizmann replied that he could "really hardly see how the Zionist Organisation can be 

/ Bell to Weizmann, 15 January 1942, op. clt. 
2 / Ibid. 

/ Medoff, Baksheesh Diplomacy, op. cit., pp.161, 163. 

/ Ibid., Prologue. 
^ / Ruskin to Weizmann, 5 June 1939, (WA). 

/ Medoff, Baksheesh Diplomacy, op. cit., p. 161. 

/ Bell to Weizmann, 15 January 1942, op. cit. 
^ / Weizmann to Norman, 12 May 1942, (WA) ; Weizmann Letters, vol.xx, op. cit., no.284, p.295. 

/ Weizmann Letters, vol.xx, op. cit., no.284, p.295, fn. 
1" / Norman to Weizmann, 13 May 1942, (CZAZ5/1391). 

11 / Norman to Weizmann, 16 June 1942, (CZA Z5/1391). 

12 / Norman to Bell, 16 June 1942, (CZA Z5/1391). 

" / Weizmann to Norman, 17 July 1942, (CZA Z5/1391). 
/ Norman to Weizmann, 28 December 1943, op. cit. 

— 130 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

expected to take over the debts which Mr. Montague Bell claims to have contracted as a result 
of the arrangements which he had with you." He pointed out that they were "perfectly 
willing to give him an opportunity of continuing his work, and have set aside some 1,500 to 
2,000 pounds for that purpose." This was in fact a considerable sum and it was thus 
unjustifiable to expect the Zionist Organisation to undertake further expenditure. Weizmann 
felt that it would be only fair for Norman himself to take over these debts (about 500 pounds), 
although not necessarily in full. He hoped that Norman would clear up this matter with him 
in order that he might leave for Iraq as soon as possible. (^) There were obviously contacts 
between Weizmann and Norman on this matter during the next couple of months, since on 21 
March, Weizmann wrote to Bell: "I think I have settled the matter with Mr. Norman. He is 
prepared to pay 450 pounds." (^) 

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, Norman had enlisted in the United States 
Navy and in the summer of 1944 he was based in London. It would thus seem that as a result of 
being in the armed forces in London, he could not at that time pay his own money over to Bell. 
He therefore wrote to Weizmann in mid-May that he had informed Bell that Weizmann 
would arrange for him to receive 500 pounds as soon as possible. Weizmann had promised 
Norman that he would arrange for the Keren Hayesod to advance this sum to Bell. In return, 
Norman undertook to repay this amount to the Keren Hayesod within one year. (^) Whether 
or not such a loan came through or Bell received any money, is not known. 

From all this we can see that Weizmann and various Zionist institutions were very 
interested in the success of Norman's plan to transfer the Arabs from Palestine even to the 
extent of arranging the financing of Bell's missions to Iraq. 

A further point to note is that Norman was not a poor man - he was a multimillionaire! 
Why then was he not prepared to give Bell a few thousand dollars to advance his very own 
plan which he had already worked on for about a decade? Was he losing interest in the 
advancement of his plan? 

Contacts with the American Government 

Up to the autumn of 1945, Norman's efforts had been mainly with the British 
government. However, all his actions had been futile. Not only were the British civil 
servants, on the whole, hostile to his plan but they had repeatedly, year after year during 
the war, refused to grant Montague Bell an exit visa to travel to Iraq. After the Labour party's 
sweeping victory in the British general election in the summer of 1945, it was hoped that they 
would implement their Palestine resolution of December 1944. However, by the end of 1945 it 
was already clear that the officials in the British Foreign Office had persuaded Foreign 
Secretary Bevin to continue with their anti-Palestine policy. The subsequent outcry caused the 
new President of the United States, Harry S. Truman to send Earl Harrison to Europe to study 
the question of Jewish refugees. Following his report, Truman wrote to Attlee asking for the 
immediate admission of 100,000 Jewish refugees into Palestine. This was the reason that 
Norman now turned his attention to the American government. 

On 4 October, Norman wrote to the President of the United States, Harry S. Truman, 
offering to put at his disposal information he had compiled on this question of transfer. In his 
letter, he pointed out, quoting a number of examples, that the "solution of political questions 
by means of the transfer of population has become a recognized procedure." In connection with 
Palestine, he quoted the relevant section of the British Labour Party resolution pointing out 
that "the difficulties that are met with in Palestine arise because of the presence of the 
Arabs, who might have been transferred to other locations outside of Palestine although 
within Arab lands." Norman pointed out that he had "made a thorough study of the capacity 
of Iraq to absorb a large proportion of the Palestinian Arabs" and that his findings indicated 
that "the resettling of some 750,000 Palestinian Arab peasants in Iraq would involve no 

/ Weizmann to Norman, 3 lanuary 1944, (WA) ; Weizmann, Letters, vol.xxi, op. cit., no. 117, p. 117. 
2 / Weizmann to Bell, 21 March 1944, (WA). 
^ / Norman to Weizmann, 14 May 1944, (WA). 

— 131 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

practical (as distinguished from political) difficulties." {^) 

On 24th of that month, William Hassett, the Secretary to the President, replied to this 
letter, (reply untraced), showing interest and requesting information. (^) As a result, Norman 
prepared a memorandum on "The Practical Possibilities of Settling a Large Number of 
Palestinian Arab Peassnts in Iraq", which he then sent to Hassett. 

In his introduction to this memorandum, Norman referred to the British Labour Party 
resolution of 1944, and considered that "mass transfer of Arabs to any land other than a free 
one with a predominantly Arab population and culture obviously would be impractical, for 
social, psychological, and political reasons." After considering the various Arab countries, he 
concluded that only Iraq was suitable for such a transfer. (^) 

As in his earlier memoranda, Norman wrote about the great potential of Iraq, a country 
which was underpopulated, yet extremely fertile, quoting a number of authorities to support 
his thesis. He explained that the recent construction of dams had made a large area of 
thinly-inhabited land available for cultivation but the present population of the country was 
unable to supply more than a very few settlers to populate these newly available areas. (^) 

He felt that "the transportation of a large number of people, together with their 
personal belongings and livestock, from Palestine to Iraq should present no practical 
difficulties." Because of "the attachment of the Arab peasants to their fellow— villagers", 
Norman considered that the transfer "would be done best by entire villages". The plans would 
also have to include provision for temporary accommodation for the settlers until they could 
build their own houses, and also supplying them with food until their new lands would yield 
their own produce. (^) 

He went on to discuss the financing of such a plan. Norman concluded that were the 
government of Iraq to furnish the Arab transferees with land free of charge, then the money 
raised by the sale of Arab land in Palestine would be sufficient to transport 700,000 Arab 
peasants to Iraq, feed them and their animals for six months and cover other overhead 
expenses. (^) 

In his final section, Norman pointed out that his memorandum only dealt with the 
resettling in Iraq of "Arab peasants" but did not deal with the half a million "urban Arabs" 
living in Palestine. He held the view that "many of these, such as artisans and merchants, 
would want to sell out their premises in Palestine and follow the peasants to Iraq." He did not 
envisage any difficulty in finding Jewish purchasers for their properties in Palestine. C) 

Norman had previously encountered criticism from the British government officials on 
his total neglect of the political aspects to his plan. This was presumably the reason why in 
the last paragraph of his memorandum to the American president, Norman stated that he 
had made no attempt to deal with the political side of the transfer. This he defined as 
inducing Iraq to accept the immigrants, giving them free land and inducing the Palestinian 
Arab peasants to move to Iraq. "Those matters", wrote Norman, "are subjects for negotiation 
between governments". (^) 

Norman was, to put it mildly, over-optimistic that Iraq would be amenable to his plan. 
When, only a few weeks later, ex-President Herbert Hoover put forward a similar plan in the 
course of a newspaper interview, the immediate reaction of the Iraqi press was extremely 

Hoover however was not deterred by this Iraqi reaction and on 30 November which was 
about ten days later, he met with Norman. (') This meeting had been arranged by a mutual 

' / Norman to President Truman, 4 October 1945, (NA 867N.01/ 11-145). 
2 / Norman to Hassett, 1 November 1945, (NA 867N.01/11-145). 

/ Edward Norman, Memorandum on the Practical Possibilities of Settling a Large Number of Palestinian Arab 
Peasants in Iraq, New York, 1 November 1945, Section i - Transfer of Arabs out of Palestine, (NA 867N.01/11-145). 

/ Ibid., Section Li - Iraq. 

/ Ibid., Section rii - Resettlement in Iraq. 

/ Ibid., Section iv - Financing. 

/ Ibid., Section v - Other Considerations. 
^ I Ibid. 

/ Calendar, 30 November 1945, (HH Presidential Papers - Calendar). 

— 132 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

friend George Sokolsky, a columnist for the "New York Post" and a member of the executive 
committee of the American Resettlement Committee for Uprooted European Jewry. 

At this meeting, they discussed the possibility of Norman appearing before the Anglo- 
American Commission of Inquiry in order to put forward his transfer plan. On 11 December, 
Hoover wrote to James McDonald, who had just been appointed a member of this Commission, 
to suggest that he meet with Norman to discuss the plan, (i) On the same day, Norman had 
written to Hoover stating that he was "available with all material prepared to be placed 
before the commission, provided the commission should indicate a desire to hear me." (^) 
Hoover informed Norman that he had written to McDonald on this question. (') McDonald 
replied to Hoover that he had written to Norman requesting a meeting, (^) although it seems 
that a face to face meeting did not materialise and that further contacts between them were 
only by correspondence and telephone. 

McDonald added in this letter that he knew Norman well, "having discussed with him 
a few years ago in considerable detail his Iraq ideas". (') The only meeting between the two of 
them which we have a record of, is the meeting of October 1938; however the phrase "a few 
years ago", used at the end of 1945, would seem to indicate a meeting around 1942. 

About the end of December, Norman again wrote to Hoover (letter undated) to update 
him on developments. He said that McDonald had asked him (Norman) to "furnish him with 
a brief memorandum, with a half dozen copies thereof" of the transfer plan. He said that if 
he received them immediately he would place them before his colleagues on the commission 
and "would suggest to them that I be called to testify during their public hearings". 

For several weeks Norman heard nothing more from McDonald. It was on day previous 
to writing this letter that McDonald informed Norman that although he had done what he 
could, it was unlikely that the commission would call him to give evidence. McDonald added 
that he would try and take the matter up with the British members of the commission, but 
Norman was not optimistic. (^) 

Resettlement Plan for Arab Refugees 

The last stage of Norman's efforts in this field (as far as can be traced), took place in 
late 1948, In the months preceeding and following the establishment of the State of Israel in 
May 1948, there was a mass exodus of Arabs - some by expulsion and some by freewill. (') 

On 8 August 1948, Norman wrote a letter (untraced) to Moshe Shertok, Foreign Minister 
of the provisional government of Israel, regarding the "revival of his plan about resettlement 
of Arabs in Iraq." By 15 October, Shertok had not yet replied to this letter. In consequence, 
Arthur Lourie, a member of the Israel foreign service, pointed out to Shertok that Norman was 
"a bit put out" by this omission, and suggested that he drop him a few lines thanking him for 
his suggestions and indicating "that the matter is not yet ripe for action at this time, or else 
that it would be useful for him to pursue his studies." (*) 

Two and a half months later, Shertok replied to Norman's letter apologising for the 
delay. He explained that the reason was that the provisional Israeli government was 
"engaged in setting up a small committee of investigation of the very subject which you have 
raised, and I thought that after a little time I might be able to tell you something of its 
findings and proposals." The committee Shertok was referring to was the transfer committee 
comprising Joseph Weitz, Ezra Danin and Zalman Lipschitz. 

Shertok pointed out that the committee had taken longer than expected to prepare its 
report. Lipschitz was at the time in the United States and Shertok suggested that Norman 
meet with him to receive "in detail (of) the results of his and his colleagues' research." 

/ Hoover to James McDonald, 11 December 1945, (HH PPI - McDonald James G). 

/ Norman to Hoover, 11 December 1945, (HH PPS - Jewish-Zionist, Clippings). 

/ Hoover to Norman, 12 December 1945, (HH PPS - Jewish- Zionist, Clippings). 

/ James McDonald to Hoover, 12 December 1945, op. cit. 

/ Ibid. 

/ Norman to Hoover, [n.d.] (late December 1945 ?), (HH PPS - Jewish-Zionist, Clippings). 

/ Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949, (Cambridge, 1987), passim. 

/ Lourie to Shertok, 15 October 1948, (ISA FM 2402/15). 

— 133 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Shertok felt sure that Norman would share with Lipschitz his knowledge of the subject. "We 
are only at the very inception of the great historic task," concluded Shertok, "and every place 
of knowledge and constructive thinking can be of distinct value at this formative stage." (^) 

Immediately on receipt of this letter, Norman replied saying, "I was very pleased to 
learn that the very idea that I had taken upon myself the liberty of proposing to you already 
had occurred to the minds of yourself and some others in Israel." He informed Shertok that 
through the initiative of Eliahu Epstein, a meeting had already been held in the previous 
week in Washington between Epstein, Lipschitz, Elisha Friedman, Joseph Schechtman and 
himself. All these participants were people who had studied or had been involved in 
proposals to transfer Arabs from Palestine. Lipschitz informed this meeting about the 
Transfer Committee and felt that those present could work in two directions. The first was 
"the presentation of ideas and supporting data, on which a plan to be adopted by the 
Government of Israel might be based." The second idea was "to mobilize the leaders of public 
opinion in this country [U.S.A.] to speak out in support of such a plan as soon as the 
Government of Israel would make public announcement of it." The meeting had agreed that 
Friedman, Schechtman and Norman who were American citizens "would be considered a sort 
of advisory committee" under the chairmanship of Norman. Norman stated that it would be 
the advisory committee's "purpose now to produce a more or less detailed plan, which 
presumably will be forwarded to you for your consideration and possible presentation 
eventually to your [Israeli] government." He hoped they could be of service in the solution of 
this "very serious problem of the Arabs with which your government is confronted." (^) It is 
not known what were the future activities, if any, of this advisory committee. 

We do, however know that a few weeks after the establishment of this Resettlement 
Committee, Norman resigned in protest after Shertok violated the secrecy by divulging to the 
"New York Times", the very plan for the resettlement of the Arab refugees which Norman 
was supposed to recruit no n- Jews to propose. (^ ) 

We also know that on 6 December 1948, Schechtman wrote a letter to Ezra Danin 
addressed to the "Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ha-Kirya, Tel-Aviv, Israel". Enclosed 
with this letter was material obtained from Norman concerning his transfer proposals. 
According to Schechtman, Norman had insisted "that a personal letter be sent to him by Mr. 
M. Shertok (and by Mr. Shertok only!) expressing recognition for all he has done in this 
particular field and for his putting at the disposal of the Israeli Government the results of his 
earlier activities." Schechtman had promised him that he would receive such a letter and 
therefore asked Danin to ensure that Shertok would send it. (^) 

The only letter that can be traced from Shertok to Norman is the letter of 17 December 
(referred to above), but this does not mention the papers handed over by Norman. Also, a 
search of the files of the Israel Foreign Ministry has not yielded them. It is of interest to note 
that this letter of Schechtman addressed to the Foreign Ministry was found, together with a 
number of Norman's memoranda and reports, in a file at the Central Zionist Archives in 
Jerusalem. It was only discovered in 1986, in an un-numbered file, (^) amongst the papers of 
Joseph Weitz, who had been a member of the various transfer committees. It is therefore very 
possible that the contents of this file was the material sent by Schechtman to Danin. It was 
then passed on to Weitz to study, and then somehow got mixed up with his papers and ended 
up at the Central Zionist Archives. 

Bartley Crum, who had been a member of the Anglo American Committee of Inquiry on 
Palestine, wrote an article entitled "Bold New Plan for Palestine" which appeared in the 
November 1949 edition of the Bnai Brith journal "The National Jewish Monthly". Norman 
had helped Crum to compose a five- paragraph appendix to this article. This appendix 
comprised a very brief summary of Norman's plan and its advantages and how it could now be 

' / Shertok to Norman, 17 December 1948, (ISA FM 2402/15). 

2 / Norman to Shertok, 24 December 1948, (ISA FM 2402/15). 

3 / Medoff, thesis, p.316. 

* / Schechtman to Danin, 6 December 1948, (CZA A246/29/1). 
^ / Now numbered CZA A246/29 and A246/29/1. 

— 134 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

utilised to solve the Arab refugee problem, (i) This seems to be one of the very few occasions 
when Norman's plans were publicly mentioned during his lifetime and also for many years 

The Saltiel Proposal 

At the beginning of 1938, a Greek Jew by the name of Edwin N. Saltiel sent a letter to 
Anthony Eden, the British Foreign Secretary, proposing a Jewish-Arab transfer of population. 
There was absolutely no connection between Saltiel and Norman or Bell - the only connection 
was in the comments of a senior civil servant in the Foreign Office, "Another wild scheme 
which is not dissimilar from that recently proposed to the CO (Colonial Office) by a certain 
Mr. Norman. It is to be noted that the author of this letter is a Jew." (^) 

Saltiel had studied the partition scheme which had recently been proposed by the Peel 
Commission and wrote a letter to Anthony Eden, the Foreign Secretary, pointing out that the 
fact that he lived in Greece was probably responsible for the suggestion which he wished to 
make. Saltiel spoke of the "very bold decision" which had been taken at the Lausanne 
Conference fifteen years previously to implement a compulsory population exchange between 
Greece and Turkey. Although at the time this drastic measure had been criticised, history 
had shown that it was a good decision. 

Saltiel believed that "with good will on the part of all concerned a similar happy 
result could be arrived at if the Arabs of Palestine were persuaded (or compelled) with the 
consent of the Rulers of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Transjordan to emigrate to those 
countries in exchange for the Jews living in the countries in question who would have to be 
persuaded (or compelled) to emigrate to Palestine." (The words in parenthesis "or compelled" 
are Saltiel's). Saltiel added that the property .left behind by the respective populations 
would serve to indemnify the other party and that the Jews and Arabs affected by this 
transfer would be assisted financially under the auspices of the League of Nations. (') 

As to be expected, the hostile comments of the Foreign Office civil servant (quoted 
above) together with a letter which he drafted, caused this plan to be still-born. 


Emanuel Neumann was an American Zionist leader who had been active in Zionist 
affairs from the days of his youth. During the course of his life, he held a number of Zionist 
offices including President of the Jewish National Fund in the United States, member of the 
Jewish Agency and Vice-Chairman of the American Zionist Emergency Council. 

Following the 1939 invitation to the Arab States to participate in the London 
Conference on the future of Palestine, Neumann published an article first in Hebrew in the 
Palestinian daily newspaper "Haboker", (*) and two days later in English in the "Palestine 
Review". (') 

In this article, Neumann said that the one advantage of including the Arab States in 
such a conference was to give an opportunity for Jewish and Arab nationalist aspirations to be 
seen in true proportion and perspective. He considered that with a bold and radical plan, the 
Palestine problem was "entirely and permanently soluble." 

After referring to the respective proposals of Zangwill and the Peel Commission for 
population exchange in Palestine, Neumann explained that the Arab States, especially Iraq, 
had large empty spaces crying out for population and development. He recommended that 
"the masses of Palestinian Arabs be transferred peaceably and in orderly fashion to Iraq and 

/ Bartley Crum, "Bold New Plan For Palestine", The National lewish Monthly, (Mount Morris, Illinois), November 
1949, Appendix, pp.93-94. 

2 / Foreign Office London, Departmental Note, 28 February 1938, (PRO FO 371/21885 E1022). 

3 / Saltiel to Anthony Eden, 14 February 1938, (PRO FO 371/21885 E1022). 

/ Emanuel Neumann, "Hapitaron Hasofi", Haboker, (Tel-Aviv), 8 February 1939, pp.2, 5. 

/ Emanuel Neumann, "A Territorial Solution", Palestine Review, (Jerusalem), vol.iii, no.43, 10 February 1939, pp.682- 

— 135 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

the Iraqian Jews to Palestine." Such a transfer to Iraq would not only increase its military 
strength but also add to its agricultural, industrial and commercial development. He felt that 
there were two practical considerations. The first and most important was, "Will Palestine 
Arabs trek? What of their traditional devotion and attachment to the land?" To this he 
answered that the Arabs of Palestine were no more attached to Palestine than had been 
masses in various European countries who had left their countries and sought better conditions 
across the seas. Before the First World War, "Palestine and Syria were no exceptions and 
likewise sent contingents to the New World." Neumann added that if the "tales about the 
miserable plight of the Arab masses in Palestine have any truth in them," they should take 
the opportunity to establish themselves in an Arab State so that their transfer would not be 
"a mad flight, unorganised and undirected but an orderly transfer and resettlement under the 
guidance and with the assistance of Government agencies." 

The second consideration was finance, which would involve many millions of pounds. 
These sums, Neumann considered, should be provided by the Iraqi Government, the British 
Government and the Jewish people. 

In conclusion, Neumann said, "What might have been regarded as fantastic a generation 
ago is the reality of to-day. Bold far-sighted statesmanship is wanted." 

At this period, Edward Norman was quietly working on his own plan to transfer Arabs 
from Palestine to Iraq. From a letter written by RLE (Rehabiah Lewin-Epstein ?) to Norman 
on 10 February (the day of publication of Neumann's article in the "Palestine Review"), we 
see that there was concern in American Zionist circles that these newspaper articles might 
harm Norman's negotiations. 

In this letter, RLE told Norman that he had met Neumann the night before his article 
had appeared in "Haboker". When Neumann told RLE that his article would appear in the 
newspapers the following day, RLE asked him to "recall it" since someone, without 
mentioning any names, was working on this behind the scenes, and "the less publicity appears 
on this subject, the better." In view of the fact that the article was not recalled, RLE wrote 
that apparently Neumann "was more interested in publicity than in my suggestion." (^) 

Five years later, in February 1944, Neumann gave evidence before the Committee on 
Foreign Affairs of the U.S. House of Representatives, on the question of the "Jewish National 
Home in Palestine". 

In the course of his evidence, he stated that "at no time in the long history of the Zionist 
movement in its many conventions and congresses and public declarations and pronouncements 
by its official spokesmen, at no time in its long history has the Zionist movement ever 
demanded the removal of the Arabs from Palestine. The head of the Zionist Organization 
has opposed it..." (^) Was Neumann "unaware" of what had been said on transfer by the head 
of the Zionist Organization and its official spokesmen at (for example) the 20th Zionist 

Two years later, on 8 January 1948, Neumann again gave evidence before a public 
committee. This time it was the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on Palestine and he 
represented the American Zionist Emergency Council. 

During cross-examination, the British Conservative M.P. Major Reginald Manningham- 
Buller asked Neumann: "I wasn't quite clear, when you were dealing with the population 
outside Palestine, whether you were or were not suggesting that in the course of time some of 
the Arab population within Palestine might move or be moved outside." 

To this Neumann answered: "No, sir. I made no such suggestion.... We have never, the 
Zionist movement has never, suggested the displacement of a single Arab from Palestine. 
There is no need for it. And we would under no circumstances base the creation of a Jewish 
policy upon the forced removal of people who have lived there for centuries.... I would only 
like to say to you, sir, that the suggestion regarding that idea was made by the British Labour 

^ / RLE to Norman, 10 February 1939, (CZA A251/17a). 

/ "The Jewish National Home in Palestine", Hearings before the Committee on Foreign Affairs House of 
Representatives, February 8, 9, 15 and 16, 1944, Washington D.C., 1944, p. 307. 

— 136 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Party, as you probably know." (i) 

At this last statement there was some laughter from the audience, and it also caused 
some embarrassment to the British Labour M.P. Richard Grossman who was a member of this 
committee (^) and whose party had completely gone back on its pro-Zionist policy after 
coming to power in the summer of 1945. Manningham-Buller immediately commented: "I am 
not fully acquainted, I am afraid, with all the [British Labour] party has said." (^) 

Neumann's statements before these two public committees are other examples of how 
Zionist leaders would blatantly deny the fact that leading Zionists had proposed transfer of 
Arabs from Palestine! As we have just seen, in 1939, Neumann had himself proposed the 
transfer of Arabs by writing articles which appeared in several Palestine newspapers! He 
was also fully aware that he was not the only Zionist leader to have made such a proposal! 


Joseph Weitz who was born in 1890, was in 1911 one of the founders of the Union of 
Agricultural Labourers in Palestine. From 1932, he was Director of the Jewish National Fund's 
Land Development Division and played an important role in the acquisition and development 
of land for the Jewish National Fund and the planning of agricultural settlement. 

In his diary entry for 20 December 1940, written in Jerusalem, Weitz wrote of a meeting 
that he had had with the surveying engineer Zalman Lipschitz (Lif). During their 
conversation, Lipschitz spoke of the need to prepare material in connection with the future of 
Palestine. Such material would include details of every Arab village, property ownership 
and the possibility of developing intensive agriculture. 

Weitz answered, "It should be clear to us that there is no room in Palestine for these two 
peoples. No 'development' will bring us to our goal of independent nationhood in this small 
country. Without the Arabs, the land will become wide and spacious for us; with the Arabs, 
the land will remain sparse and cramped... The only solution is Palestine, at least Western 
Palestine, without Arabs. There is no room here for compromises!... The way is to transfer the 
Arabs from here to the neighbouring countries, all of them, except perhaps those from 
Bethlehem, Nazareth and the Old City of Jerusalem." Although the vast majority of Arabs 
in Palestine were Moslems, Weitz's only exceptions referred to places which were especially 
sacred to the Christian world and contained Christian inhabitants. Possibly the reason for 
these exceptions was to minimise opposition from the Western Christian world to his 

Weitz continued, "Not one village, not one tribe should be left. And the form of the 
transfer needs to be the creation of a refuge for them in Iraq, in Syria and even in Transjordan." 
He felt that for this objective, large sums of money could be found. Only with such a transfer 
would the land be able to absorb millions of Jews thus solving the Jewish problem. "There is no 
other way out," concluded Weitz. 

How did Lipschitz react to these proposals of Weitz's? The diary entry notes that 
Lipschitz agreed to these ideas regarding the transfer of the Arabs from Palestine but added 
that preparations should also be made for partial solutions. To this Weitz replied that 
investigations should be made in the neighbouring countries in order to determine their 
capacity to absorb the Arabs of Palestine. Weitz notes that he and Lipschitz agreed between 
them to apply to the appropriate department and suggest that they initiate work in this 
direction in preparation for a "detailed plan for the transfer of Palestinian Arabs to the 
neighbouring countries." {^) 

I Stenographic Report, Hearing before the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry, Washington D.C., 8 January 1946, 
pp. 102-03, (CZA gimmel 9960 b ii). 

/ Emanuel Neumann, In the Arena, (New York, 1976), p.219 ; Bartley Crum, Behind the Silken Curtain, (London, 
1947), p.24. 

/ Hearing, op. cit., p. 103. 
^ I Joseph Weitz, Handwritten Diary entry 20 December 1940, pp.1090-91, (CZA A246/7) ; Joseph Weitz, My Diary 
and Letters to the ChUdren, (Ramat Can, 1965), vol.2, pp. 181-82. 

— 137 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

During the months which followed, Weitz's views on the inability of Jews and Arabs to 
live together in Palestine, and of the danger of an Arab majority, and hence of the critical 
need for transfer of Arabs so that Palestine would be solely for Jews, repeatedly found 
expression in his diary, (i) However, Weitz did not leave this question just to diary-jottings 
and conversations, but towards the middle of 1941 he actively began to develop a plan for the 
practical realisation of Arab transfer. On 22 June, he wrote, "From now on it is necessary to 
work on a secret but fundamental plan [on transfer of] the Arabs from here which would be 
implemented under the supervision of an American— Anglo committee." (^) 

A few days later, he again wrote in his diary about the need for Anglo and American 
involvement in such a plan. Weitz had travelled to the lands of an Arab village and to Tel- 
Aviv, and afterwards wrote that throughout the entire journey his mind had been occupied 
with a transfer plan. He realised that there were many difficulties to surmount to implement 
such a plan, and that one must not run away from them but overcome them. He thus continued, 
"[We must] find a receptive ear principally in America, afterwards in Britain and then in the 
neighbouring countries.. We will set up an apparatus composed of experts from the Yishuv, and 
they will supervise the [Arab] transfer and the preparations for resettlement 'there' [outside 
Palestine]." (^) 

Two weeks later, Weitz succeeded after much effort in obtaining a short meeting with 
Moshe Shertok and Eliezer Kaplan. In his diary, Weitz reported how at this meeting he had 
lectured to Shertok that "our redemption will come only if the land is vacated for us". He 
pointed out that "the transfer of the Arab population is essential" in order to solve the Jewish 
question. Weitz suggested that the Jewish Agency set up a committee comprising between 
three to five people "to investigate the possibility of Arab settlement in Iraq, Syria and 
Transjordan". Such a committee would have to make a thorough study of this subject which 
would be able to stand up to expert scrutiny and it would have to do its work quickly and 
without publicity. Both Shertok and Kaplan were prepared to participate in such a plan. 
Weitz also put forward ideas for financing such transfer. (*) 

Towards the end of August 1941, Weitz spoke at length with Berl Katznelson. 
Commenting on this meeting, Weitz wrote in his diary, "On the question of 'population 
transfer', it appears that he has supported this idea for many years, and furthermore, like 
me, he sees in it the only solution to our problem in Palestine." Katznelson believed that after 
the war, the world leaders would support the idea of population transfer and he encouraged 
Weitz to assemble material for a plan to settle the Arabs of Palestine in the neighbouring 
countries, and he promised to speak to Kaplan and Shertok about this matter. (^) 

On 1 September, Weitz received a visa to travel to Syria and Lebanon, the purpose of 
his visit being to look into the practical possibilities of Arab transfer. (^) 

Five days later, Weitz went to visit the kibbutz Migdal Haemek - a kibbutz founded on 
land from which Arabs had been transferred. He spoke to some of the kibbutz members in 
detail "on the plan for population transfer". Ya'akov Hazan answered that he and his 
kibbutz movement would oppose it because it was useless, could not be implemented and would 
harm relations with the Arabs. Some members of the kibbutz bombarded him with questions 
whose essence was that they did not believe in its feasibility, although they liked the idea. 


On the following morning whilst in Haifa, he spoke to Eliahu Epstein and informed him 
of the reason for his journey to Syria. "In his [Epstein's] opinion", he wrote in his diary, "the 
plan for transfer of population is the only plan which will solve the Palestine problem." (*) 

^ / JosephWeitz, Handwritten Diary entries; 13 February 1941, p.lll7, 18 March 1941, p.ll26, 20 March 1941, p.ll27, 
4 May 1941, p.ll42, 13 May 1941, p. 1149, 22 June 1941, p. 1169, (CZA A246/7) ; IbicJ., pp.190, 191-92, 192, 195, 202. 

2 / Joseph Weitz, Handwritten Diary entry 22 June 1941, pp.1169-70, (CZA A246/7) ; Ibid., p.202. 

3 / Joseph Weitz, Handwritten Diary entry 26 June 1941, pp.1172-73, (CZA A246/7) ; Ibid., p.203. 

/ Joseph Weitz, Handwritten Diary entry 10 July 1941, pp.1180-81, (CZA A246/7) ; Ibid., pp.205-06. 


^ / Joseph Weitz, Handwritten Diary entry 28 August 1941, p.l207, (CZA A246/7) ; Ibid., p.214. 

^ / Joseph Weitz, Handwritten Diary entry 1 September 1941, p. 1209, (CZA A246/7) ; Ibid. 

^ / Joseph Weitz, Handwritten Diary entry 6 September 1941, pp. 1212-13, (CZA A246/7) ; Ibid., p.215. 

^ / Joseph Weitz, Handwritten Diary entry 7 September 1941, p. 1213, (CZA A246/7) ; Ibid. 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

On 11 September, Weitz was in Damascus, and he went to study literature dealing with 
the population of the Jezireh area, (i) A week later he arrived in the Jezireh area and he 
concluded that "there is no doubt that in the future the Jezireh could serve as an enormous 
absorbing home." He felt that if the nations of the world "will want to solve the Jewish 
question, they will be able in large measure to accomplish these aims by transferring part of 
the Arab population of Palestine to the Syrian Jezireh, and without any doubt also to the 
Iraqi Jezireh." (^) 

On his return to Jerusalem, Weitz met with Kaplan on 4 October. Weitz asked him to 
convene a meeting of the Inner Council together with the Political Department of the Jewish 
Agency in order to decide if the idea of population transfer could become one of the permitted 
projects or whether it would be forbidden to deal with it. Kaplan answered that he could not 
give the answer of the Political Department, but his own opinion was positive; however he 
added that very great caution would be required. Weitz then suggested to Kaplan that 
together with Shertok, they should invite for consultations a number of people including Dr. 
Dov Joseph, Katznelson and Epstein to study the transfer question. Kaplan agreed to this 
proposal. (') 

Towards the end of October, Dov Joseph travelled to the Jezireh, and before he left, 
Weitz met with him and asked him to check whether the technical experts working in Syria 
for Solel Boneh, (the Histadrut's building corporation), could carry out research in the Jezireh 
region. Joseph promised that on his return he would immediately arrange a committee for this 
purpose in a "serious, thorough and consistent manner. (*) A month later a meeting took place 
in Joseph's house, where it was decided to make a study of the climate in the Jezireh and of 
the water in both the Jezireh and Transjordan. (^) Although Weitz does not state so 
specifically, it is probable that these studies were proposed for the purpose of assembling 
information for a transfer plan. 

The next entry on transfer in Weitz's diary is in May of the following year. He reported 
on a talk with Eliezer Granot, which was mainly on the "population transfer" question. 
Granot spoke of a committee comprising himself, Kaplan, Shertok, and Joseph to study and 
prepare a plan of activities. He was very sympathetic towards a population transfer plan, 
adding that it would have to be done with great caution. They agreed that Granot would 
prepare the outline of a plan and bring it to a meeting to be held between the two of them two 
days later. ('') 

On the following day a meeting took place to discuss the draining of the Huleh swamps. 
The question was raised whether to begin this work now. Weitz answered with an emphatic 
negative, adding however that one needs "to prepare a detailed and fundamental plan which 
would wait until the area would be vacated of its [Arab] inhabitants living there today." (') 

Again in 1942, Weitz would bring up the question of Arab transfer. In September of that 
year during a journey to Nahalel he spoke with his travelling companions on this question. (*) 
A few weeks later, he asked Professor Bodenheimer, who was about to travel to Iraq, to 
utilise the opportunity to investigate the possibility of population transfer. (') 

Weitz was also interested in purchasing land in Transjordan on which to resettle the 
transferred Arabs. During 1943, an Arab sheikh called Mitkal Pachah suggested selling tens 
of thousands of dunams of his land in Transjordan to the J.N. P., and for this he received an 
advance payment. In April 1944, a delegation of four members of the J.N. P., which included 
Weitz, went to inspect this land and determine whether there would be sufficient water 
sources for agriculture (which presumably the transferees would be involved in). Their 

/ Joseph Weitz, Handwritten Diary entry 11 September 1941, p.l214, (CZA A246/7) ; Ibid., p.216. 
/ Joseph Weitz, Handwritten Diary entry 18 September 1941, pp. 1215-16, (CZA A246/7) ; Ibid. 
/ Joseph Weitz, Handwritten Diary entry 4 October 1941, pp. 1224-25, (CZA A246/7) ; Ibid., p.219. 
/ Joseph Weitz, Handwritten Diary entry 21 October 1941, p.l237, (CZA A246/7) ; Ibid., p.223. 
/ Joseph Weitz, Handwritten Diary entry 25 November 1941, p.l256, (CZA A246/7) ; Ibid., p.228. 
/ Joseph Weitz, Handwritten Diary entry 31 May 1942, p. 1337, (CZA A246/8) ; Ibid., p.259. 
/ Joseph Weitz, Handwritten Diary entry 1 June 1942, p.l338, (CZA A246/8) ; Ibid., p.259. 
/ Weitz, My Diary and Letters to the Children, op. cit., vol.2., p.275. 
/ Joseph Weitz, Handwritten Diary entry 24 September 1942, p. 1400, (CZA A246/8). 

— 139 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

inspection showed that there was no water in the entire area and thus on returning to 
Jerusalem, they reported that their impressions were negative. {^) 

After the establishment of the State of Israel, Weitz continued to take a great interest 
in the transfer of Arabs. 

At the end of May 1948, in a meeting with Foreign Minister Shertok, Weitz brought up 
the question of, in his own words "post facto transfer". He proposed the establishment of a 
committee of three members which included himself, whose function it would be to see that 
the Arab refugees would never return to Israel. Shertok praised Weitz's initiative on this 
question (^) and such a "Transfer Committee", with the composition proposed by Weitz was 
indeed set up. 

The historian Benny Morris made a detailed comparison of Weitz' diary entries for 1948 
and of the published version of his diary brought out in the 1960s and concluded: "while his 
notebook [diary] entries abound with references to [Arab] population transfer, such references 
are almost completely absent from the published diary!" (') 

In 1951, Weitz was actively involved in a plan to transfer Christian Arabs from the 
upper Galilee to South America. The plan was put before Foreign Minister Sharett (formemly 
Shertok) and then to the Prime Minister Ben-Gurion and they both gave it their blessing. 
Weitz then travelled to Argentina to advance this transfer plan. (^) 

Yosef Weitz' son Ra'anan (who in the 1950s became head of the Settlement Department 
of the Jewish Agency), was also involved in proposing the transfer of Arabs. In 1943 he wrote a 
memorandum to Ben-Gurion and to other Zionist leaders in which he proposed the need to 
prepare for debates in a peace conference on the establishment of a Jewish State. 

In this memorandum, he put forward three possibilities for organising ways to 
statehood and he suggested the preparation of working material for each of these 

The first of these methods involved a maximum Arab transfer and was based on the 
assumption that it would be politically feasible to transfer a majority of the Arabs of 
Palestine to the neighbouring Arab countries. Ra'anan wrote that such a programme would 
require research in order to obtain information in a number of spheres. These included having a 
knowledge of the climatic and economic conditions, and of the tribal and communal 
composition of the area to which the Arabs would be transferred, and of the possibilities of 
mass absorption. 

The second method involved a maximum development of Palestine and a partial Arab 
transfer. This possibility was based on the following principles: By means of land reclamation 
and the transporting of large quantities of water from one area of Palestine to another, two 
concentrated regions of Jewish settlement - namely in the Negev and in the mountain region - 
would be established. Arabs living in the area between these two regions and also in other 
areas essential for Jewish settlement would be transferred to the neighbouring countries. 

The third method was a maximum development of Palestine coupled with a regional 
concentration of the Arabs. Ra'anan commented that this possibility was more modest in its 
requirements regarding the Arabs. The Arabs would only be transferred between different 
areas or within different areas of Palestine. (^) 


Israel Sieff, who was a British industrialist and Zionist, was born in 1889 in 

/ Joseph Weitz, "The Negotiations with the Sheikh in Connection with Transjordan", Ma'ariv, (Tel-Aviv), 18 October 
1967, p.26. 

2 / Joseph Weitz, Handwritten Diary entry 28 May 1948, p.2403, (CZA A246/13) ; Weitz, My Diary and Letters to the 
ChUdren, op. cit., vol.3, p.293. 

/ Benny Morris, "Falsifying the Record: A Fresh Look at Zionist Documentation of 1948", Journal of Palestine Studies, 
(Berkeley), vol.XXIV, no.3 (Spring 1995), p.46. 

^ I Weitz, My Diary and Letters to the Children, op. cit., vol.4, pp.154, 155, 164, 166-67, 184, 186-87. 
^ / Ra'anan Weitz, Nihoah Hashita Hakotzanit, (Jerusalem, 1997), pp.236-40. 

— 140 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Manchester, England. He collaborated with Weizmann in Zionist affairs and was associated 
with a number of Zionist and educational organisations in England. He, together with other 
members of his family, founded the Daniel Sieff Research Institute in Rehovot, from which 
the Weizmann Institute developed. Sieff was a vice-chairman and joint managing director of 
Marks and Spencer and in 1967 became its president. In 1966, he was made a life peer. 

During the Second World War, Sieff was asked by the British Board of Trade to go to 
the United States in order to try to sell as many British goods as possible in order to help 
finance the war effort. (^) 

Whilst in the United States, he was also to lecture on Zionism. In his memoirs, Sieff 
reports that he was in the middle of such a speech when the news of the Japanese bombing 
Pearl Harbour (7 December 1941) reached America. (^) A few weeks earlier, in another 
address, Sieff had proposed Arab transfer from Palestine and this even caused a Question to 
be asked in the British Parliament. This however is not even hinted at, let alone mentioned in 
his memoirs! 

It was on the 16 or 17 November 1941 that Sieff addressed five hundred delegates at a 
meeting of the New York Region of the United Palestine Appeal in Albany, New York. In his 
speech, Sieff estimated that between one and three million European Jews would be homeless 
after the war, and he put forward three proposals to deal with this situation: 1) the settling 
of one million Jews in Palestine over the course of the next ten years, with inter-governmental 
assistance 2) "large sections of the Arab population of Palestine should be transplanted to Iraq 
and other Middle-Eastern Arab States, allowing, however, Arabs who were willing to live in 
an autonomous Jewish State to remain in Palestine" 3) the present boundaries of Palestine 
should be extended to include Transjordan. (^) [This speech of Sieff's has not been found in his 
archives at "Marks & Spencer". (^) However, it was reported in a number of newspapers.] 

A few weeks later, a question was tabled to the Home Secretary, Herbert Morrison, in 
the House of Commons of the British Parliament. The questioner was Cyril Tom Culverwell, 
who had been the Conservative M.P. for Bristol West since 1928, and the subject of his 
question was the Exit Permit granted to Sieff. [During the war one required a permit to leave 
the British Isles.] 

Culverwell asked the Home Secretary "upon what grounds permission was granted for 
Mr. Israel Sieff to travel to the United States of America, in view of the propaganda against, 
and attacks upon, the policy of His Majesty's Government in relation to Palestine in which 
this man has indulged?" The Home Secretary answered that he had been granted an exit 
permit on 16 September in order that he might promote export sales to the U.S.A. 

In a supplementary question, Culverwell then asked whether the Home Secretary was 
aware that Sieff was "stirring up anti-British feeling among his co-religionists in America, 
and that he is antagonising the Arabs by urging that they should be sent to other Arab 
countries in order to make room for more Jews in Palestine?" He demanded that such 
propaganda be stopped. The Home Secretary replied that he had no evidence that Sieff 
desired or wanted to stir up anti-British feeling. "While there are various views on the 
question of Palestine, I think everybody is entitled to have his opinions." 

Culverwell then asked whether the Home Secretary had "seen the report of a speech 
which Mr. Sieff made in New York, to which I drew his attention, urging that the Arabs 
should be displaced in order to make room for Jews, and ought not British subjects who are 
given trade permits to go to America be told to keep their mouths shut?" The Home Secretary 
answered that anyone possessing an exit permit should be discreet and promised that if his 
department had received a report of this speech of Sieff's, he would look at it. However he 
did "not want to go so far as to seek to prevent a British subject travelling abroad from 

^ / Israel Sieff, Memoirs, (London, 1970), p. 177. 

2 / Ibid., p. 179. 

3 / "1,000,000 Settlers in Ten Years", The Jewish Chronicle, (London), 21 November 1941, p.7; "O.Z.O. Adopts 
Evacuation Programme", The Jewish Standard, (London), 21 November 1941, p. 3; "The Hare Plays Lion", Zionews, 
(New York), 2 January 1942, p.3; Der Tog, (New York), 17 November 1941, pp. 1, 2. 

/ Private Communication from Marks & Spencer, 8 July 1997. 

— 141 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

expressing reasonable views on matters on which there is not universal agreement." (^) 

Two important points that emerge from the Home Secretary's answers are that transfer 
of Arabs from Palestine came under the heading of "reasonable views" and that he had no 
intention of muzzling such views. What is more, this was during the period when the British 
Government was implementing the White Paper and preventing land sales to Jews, and was 
doing its best to gain Arab support for the Allies' war effort. 

Although a report of Sieff's address in New York was limited to a few Jewish 
newspapers, and even there the accounts were fairly brief, the subsequent Parliamentary 
question and its aftermath received far wider coverage. As we shall see, newspapers in both 
Britain and Palestine reported in detail on this Parliamentary question and its answer. There 
were also a number of editorials arising from it, and Culverwell himself wrote letters of 
explanation to two British Jewish newspapers. 

Both question and answer were reported verbatim in the bulletin of the "Palcor News 
Agency" (^) and in the newspaper "The New Judaea" (') and in a summarised form in both 
"The Jewish Chronicle" (^) and "The Jewish Standard". (') The Palestine newspaper the 
"Palestine Post", (^) quoting from the "Palcor News Agency" also went into some detail on this 
Parliamentary question, but completely omitted the phrases regarding Arab transfer! 
Similarly the Hebrew Palestinian newspapers "Haolam" (') and "Hamashkif" (*) also 
omitted the phrase on Arab transfer! It is very possible that because of the draconic 
censorship in Palestine at that period (') any mention of Arab transfer was cut out.. 

According to the index of the British Foreign Office, (^°) there were two files on the 
subject of this Parliamentary question, but these files have unfortunately not been preserved 
(^^ ) and so we do not know their content. 

Sieff's reaction to Culverwell's question was a denial to the New York representative of 
the "Sunday Express" that "there is any truth in the allegations made against him in the 
House of Commons." (^^) It would seem from his statement that he did not deny having 
proposed transfer of Arabs from Palestine but denied the suggestion that he was engaging in 
anti-British propaganda in the United States. 

Following the Home Secretary's answer to Culverwell's question, the M.P. Commander 
Locker-Lampson said (presumably to Culverwell): "Why be anti-Semitic? That is what 
Hitler wants." (^^) 

The idea that anti-Semitism was behind Culverwell's question was brought up in the 
course of editorials in several British Jewish newspapers. "The Jewish Chronicle" pointed out 
that this was "not the first occasion on which Mr. Sieff has been the subject of Parliamentary 
questions, and that the same unsolicited attention has been bestowed on one of his business 
colleagues, Mr. Simon Marks." This led the editorial writer to ask if there was any ulterior 
motive for this "somewhat strange vendetta? Is it a case of the persons who prompt those 
innocent Parliamentary instruments indulging in mere anti-Jewish skirmishing, with a well- 
known Jewish firm as the object of attack?" He regarded such behavior as "mean and intensely 

/ Parliamentary Debates, Commons, vol.376, 11 December 1941, cols.1653-54. 
/ Palcor News Agency, Bulletin no. 61, vol.5, 12 December 1941, p.4. 
/ "Palestine: Questions in Parliament", The New ludaea, (London), January 1942, p.55. 
/ "Mr. Sieff Virulently Attacked", The Jewish Chronicle, (London), 19 December 1941, p.5. 
/ "Is Zionism Anti-British?", The Jewish Standard, (London), 19 December 1941, p. 8. 
/ "Two Questions Go Unanswered", Palestine Post, (Jerusalem), 14 December 1941, p.l. 
/ "In the Zionist World", Haolam, (Jerusalem), no. 12, 18 December 1941, p.95. 
" / Hamashkif, (Tel-Aviv), 14 December 1941, p.l. 

/ see for example: "Palestine's Censorship", The Jewish Chronicle, (London), 9 January 1942, p.22; "Palestine 
Censorship Severely Criticized", The Jewish Standard, (London), 30 January 1942, p.l. 

/ Index to the Correspondence of the Foreign Office for the Year 1941, part IV, S to Z, (Nendeln/ Liechtenstein, 
1972), p. 118; Index to the Correspondence of the Foreign Office for the Year 1942, part IV, S to Z, 
(Nendeln /Liechtenstein, 1972), p.99. 

/ Private Communication from PRO, 2 June 1997. 

/ "Mr. Israel Sieff; Denial of Commons Allegations", Daily News Bulletin, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, (London), 
vol.xxii, no.287, 15 December 1941, p.2; "Allegations Untrue", The Jewish Standard, (London), 19 December 1941, p.8. 
/ Parliamentary Debates, Commons, op. cit., col.1654. 

— 142 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

un-English in pursuing this campaign under cover of Parhamentary privilege in a place where 
the victims cannot be present to answer it - and especially so when the insinuations are so 
serious and unfounded." (i) 

The "New Judaea" also suggested that anti-Semitism was behind this question. "It 
would probably be doing Mr. Culverwell an injustice to imagine that he really wants any such 
embargo [i.e. preventing a British subject from travelling abroad] to be imposed - except, of 
course, on Mr. Sieff, or any one else who is not only a British subject, but also a Jew and a 
Zionist." O 

The question of anti-Semitism is also found in an editorial in "The Jewish Standard", 
the organ of the British Revisionists, who wrote, "But we cannot help feeling disquieted by 
what appears to be some sort of campaign against Jews and their right to advocate what they 
consider to be the just claims of the Jewish people... That even M.P.'s were not free from 
certain noxious infections of a semi-fascist and anti-semitic character was proved by what 
leaked out regarding the roll of members of Captain Ramsay's notorious 'Right Club'." (^) 

Another point made in these editorials was the question of free speech. The Home 
Secretary had answered that he did not want to muzzle people. "The New Judaea" was in 
complete agreement with this view. (^) "The Jewish Standard" in even stronger language 
wrote: "Without going into the merits of the particular utterance at issue (such as asking 
what the Arabs have done for Britain in this war to deserve such tender solicitude on the part 
of British M.P.'s) we, in common with all men of good will, must emphatically reject any 
attempt to muzzle us, and that in the very centre of embattled democracy." (^) 

A further editorial on this subject appeared in the following week's edition of "The 
Jewish Standard". Here the editorial specifically dealt with Sieff's transfer plan. Whilst 
defending Sieff's right to make such a proposal, the editorial writer strongly disagreed with 
this transfer proposal. He felt that "Mr. Sieff's utterances... reveal once more the old Zionist 
aptitude for saying the wrong thing at the least opportune moment" and that his proposal "is 
as puerile as the moment for this suggestion is ill-timed ... We must condemn Mr. Sieff's 
suggested solution not only as impracticable and ill-timed but also as undemocratic." (^) The 
basis for the editorial writer's comments was, as he stated, Jabotinsky's publicised views on 
Arab transfer. However, from now available archival material, we can see that Jabotinsky's 
private views on transfer may well have been quite different! 

In contrast to the editorial in "The Jewish Standand", an editorial in "The Jewish 
Chronicle" cautiously endorsed transfer. "The proposal [to transfer Arabs from Palestine] is, of 
course, not a new one, and the principle underlying it was adopted in another country with 
salutary effect." C) The "New Judaea" took a middle course by neither endorsing nor 
condemning transfer. It only recalled the fact that Duff Cooper, the former First Lord of the 
British Admiralty, "when in the United States, after the outbreak of the war before he joined 
the Government, went much further in his utterances on Palestine than Mr. Sieff." (*) 

[The editorial writer did not identify Duff Cooper's speech, but he is very likely 
referring to the address delivered by him in January 1940 to the National Conference of the 
United Palestine Appeal in Washington. In this address. Cooper called upon Britain not only 
to honour the pledge contained in the Balfour Declaration, but also to strengthen it in word 
and spirit. (') 

In the course of the address. Cooper suggested transfer of Arabs as one of the ways to 
honour this pledge. He said that "those [Arabs] who wish to emigrate, we will assist to 

' / "M. & S.... A Hidden Hand?", The Jewish Chronicle, (London), 26 December 1941, p.lO. 

/ The New Judaea, (London), January 1942, p.43. 

/ "By Way of Comment", The Jewish Standard, (London) , 19 December 1941, p.5. 

/ New Judaea, January 1942, op. cit. 

/ Jewish Srtandard, 19 December 1941, op. cit. 

/ "By Way of Comment", The Jewish Standard, 26 December 1941, p.3. 

/ "M. & S.", Jewish Chronicle, 26 December 1941, op. cit. 

/ New Judaea, January 1942, op. cit. 

/A Proposal for the Solution of the Palestine Problem by the Right Honorable Alfred Duff Cooper, Former First Lord 
of the British Admiralty, part 1, p.l, (CZA Z4/6017). 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

emigrate." He promised that they would have a fresh start in Arab countries and would be 
moving into territories where Arabs had lived for generations and were still living. He felt 
that the Arabs would have nothing to fear from such a solution, (i)] 

Following the strong criticism of Culverwell in the British Jewish press, he wrote 
letters to both "The Jewish Standard" and "The Jewish Chronicle". 

In his letter to "The Jewish Standard", published in the edition dated 2 January 1942,. 
Culverwell said that "the best, if not the only, hope for the future of Jewry lies in an Allied 
victory" and thus one would expect that "Jews everywhere would abstain from any speech or 
action which might antagonize or hamper their potential saviours." At a time when the 
Allies needed all the support they could obtain, a proposal to transfer Arabs from Palestine 
"must obviously antagonize the Arabs and might, if adopted by the Government, drive them 
into the Axis camp." (^) 

In the same edition of "The Jewish Standard", an editorial answered Culverwell's 
letter. The editorial writer accepted the fact that because the Jews were Hitler's main target, 
they had no alternative and would support the Allies. However, even to this there was a 
limit and thus Culverwell should "not take it for granted that the Allies on their side are 
entitled to expect from us an abandonment of our claims and a turning aside from our own 
national destiny simply because it might interfere with the ornamental outline of this or that 
policy of one of the Allies." In the view of the editorial writer, British policy in relation to 
Palestine had brought Britain no Arab support in the Middle East. (') 

Culverwell's letter to "The Jewish Chronicle" (^) was published the following week. It 
was shorter but of similar content to his letter to "The Jewish Standard". The editor of the 
paper added his comments, which were of a rather defensive nature, at the end of the letter. 
He explained that the editorial "certainly did not suggest that he [Culverwell] was engaged 
in a sinister or malicious conspiracy against Jews in general and Mr. Sieff in particular. We 
suggested the possibility of Mr. Culverwell and others having been misled by persons of less 
high-minded purpose". He also felt that a suggestion by a Jew that "some sort of voluntary 
exchange of population should be considered is scarcely likely to have much effect one way or 
the other" on relations with the Arabs. (') 

The organ of the American Revisionists, "Zionews", also had an editorial dealing with 
Sieff's speech and articles on the same subject. After summarising Sieff's speech and pointing 
out that the Revisionists had never demanded "a forced ejection of the Arabs" from Palestine, 
the writer reminded his readers of proposals for transfer of Arabs which he said had been 
made in the previous months. These included the proposal by Blanche Dugdale which had 
appeared in "The Congress Weekly", which was the organ of the American Jewish Congress, 
and that of Akiva Ettinger which had been published in the organ of the American Poale 
Zion, "The Jewish Frontier". He thus came to the conclusion that "these [sic] is certainly not 
only coincidence; such coincidence happens seldom, if ever at all. Something is cooking in the 
exited, confused minds of the Agency Zionists. It is sometimes interesting to stand at the 
sidelines and watch their feverish totterings." (^) 

Another person upset by Sieff's speech was Edward Norman. As we have seen, Norman 
was at that time very discreetly pursuing his own plan to transfer Arabs from Palestine to Iraq 
and he was worried that any publicity given to such a scheme could topple his own plan. 

In a letter that Norman had written to Weizmann in May 1942, Norman referred to a 
conversation that he had had with Sieff on this matter. In this letter, he commented that "to 
my mind in a most irresponsible manner, [Sieff] made a public address that was widely 
reported in the papers, advocating that the Jewish people should adopt the policy now of 
demanding that after the defeat of the Axis the United Nations should undertake to 

^ / Ibid., part 1, p.2. 

/ C. T. Culverwell, Letters to the Editor, The lewish Standard, (London), 2 lanuary 1942, p. 7. 
^ / "Half a Loaf", The Jewish Standard, (London), 2 January 1942, p.4 

/ C. T. Culverwell, Letters to the Editor, The Jewish Chronicle, (London), 9 January 1942, p.8. 

/ Editor's Comments on Culverwell's letter. The Jewish Chronicle, (London), 9 January 1942, p.! 

/ Zionews, 2 January 1942, op. cit. 

— 144 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

evacuate the Arabs of Palestine to Iraq." Norman felt that the matter was made even worse 
since "Israel Sieff stated at my house" in the presence of a number of people "that his 
proposal had been based entirely upon my plans, which he knew about, through some channel 
that he did not disclose. There are several people through whom he might have learned of 
my scheme and work, such as Simon Marks...." {^) 

Norman obviously immediately had some regrets in writing this about Sieff, since on 
the very next day he wrote a further letter to Weizmann which was solely on this matter. In 
it he pointed out that after he had spoken to Sieff, the latter "agreed that it had been unwise 
on his part to have made public reference to any scheme for resettlement of the Palestinian 
Arabs in Iraq or any other country, and he would not do so in the future." In view of this, 
Norman considered the matter closed and thus he did not want Weizmann to even mention it 
to Sieff. (2) 


Ernst Frankenstein was a German-Jewish jurist, and authority on international law. 
Before settling in London, he had been a member of the Berlin Bar and legal adviser to the 
Italian Embassy, and served as lecturer at the Academy of International Law at The Hague. 
In 1944, his book "Justice for My People" was published, in which he presented the legal 
claim of the Jews to Palestine. 

In the course of this book, Frankenstein put forward a proposal for the resettlement of 
the Arabs of Palestine in the under-populated Arab countries, especially Iraq. He considered 
that, "The Jewish State should comprise the mandated territory of Palestine west and east of 
the Jordan." 

With regard to the population of the Jewish State, Frankenstein said that any non-Jew 
"entitled to live in Palestine" would have not only protection but would enjoy the rights and 
privileges of every citizen. He immediately added that this would not be the case with non- 
Jews who immigrated to Palestine (including Transjordan) illegally. "Illegal immigrants will 
have to be gradually repatriated," wrote Frankenstein, "while those who do not want to 
become citizens of the new state should be given the opportunity of settling in another 
country." (^) One should mention here, that during the previous thirty years or so, there had 
been "a substantial illegal immigration of Arabs" into Palestine, {'•) and therefore according 
to Frankenstein's plan, there would be a "substantial" number of Arabs "to be gradually 
repatriated" to the Arab countries. This was of course apart from those who would be given 
"the opportunity of settling in another country." 

Frankenstein noted that most of the Arab countries especially Iraq were underpopulated 
and needed development of their resources. In a memorandum submitted to Mr. Krausz's Sub- 
Committee of the Political Committee of the British Zionist Federation in December of the 
following year (1945), Frankenstein wrote briefly of the potentials of Iraq adding that the 
"country could be restored to its former wealth if the great irrigation system on which the 
fertility depends would be restored." In this memorandum, he referred to another 
memorandum (which has not been traced), which he had submitted seven years earlier to the 
Jewish Agency in which he had proposed "the outlines of an international scheme for the 
reconstruction of the Middle East, combined with the (voluntary) transfer of the Palestinian 
Arabs." (The parenthesis is Frankenstein's.) 

About a fortnight before the 1945 memorandum, ex-President Herbert Hoover of the 
United States had published his plan for the transfer of the Arabs of Palestine to Iraq. 
Frankenstein mentioned this, adding that the "American Zionist Emergency Council had 
welcomed the plan" and that in his opinion it was "the only realistic solution of the different 

^ / Norman to Weizmann, 13 May 1942, (CZA Z5/1391) 
2 / Norman to Weizmann, 14 May 1942, (CZA Z5/1391) 

/ Ernst Frankenstein, Justice for My People, (New York, 1944), pp. 159-60. 

/ Moshe Aumann, Land Ownerstiip in Palestine 1880 - 1948, (Jerusalem, [n.d.]), p. 17. 

— 145 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

problems." He felt that it had the advantage of being an "economic and social plan" rather 
than a political one. {^) 

In his book, Frankenstein offered the world an opportunity to contribute practically to 
solving the Jewish problem and at the same time assist the Arab States in their work of 
reconstruction. "All those Arabic-speaking people who have to be repatriated and those who 
decline nationality should be given the chance of starting a better and happier life than they 
had led before, thus encouraging others to follow their example voluntarily." 

Frankenstein felt that if every Arab craftsman and peasant in Palestine and Transjordan 
were to be given the opportunity of acquiring, without any expense on his part, his own house 
and land in an Arab country, many would gladly take such an opportunity. Similarly Jews 
living in Arab countries should be given every facility for settling in Palestine. "The ideal 
goal should be a kind of voluntary exchange of population as it has already been envisaged by 
clear-thinking non-Jews." [Proposals brought forward by many non-Jews are discussed later in 
this work.] Frankenstein considered that this Jewish-Arab population exchange "should be 
carried out as an international scheme under international control." (^) 


Victor Gollancz, English publisher and author was born in 1893. Throughout his life he 
sought to combat poverty and suffering through socialism, and, later pacifism. During Israel's 
War of Independence, Gollancz headed an organisation for relief work for Arabs and later for 
Arab refugees in the Gaza Strip. 

In a booklet written in 1945, Gollancz considered the question of the Arabs residing in 
Palestine. He did not agree that the "Arabs of Palestine would find it intolerable, spiritually 
intolerable, to remain there if it became a Jewish Commonwealth." If however, this were to 
be the case, he would recommend a very simple solution based on population transfer. 

Gollancz proposed that the United Nations say to the Arab statesmen, "We desire to 
establish, by the necessary stages, a Jewish Commonwealth in Palestine, for we believe a 
settlement of the Jewish question on lines such as these to be an indispensable part of the 
world settlement. We give our guarantee that every Arab in Palestine shall have complete 
civil equality and religious freedom. But if, in spite of this guarantee, any Arab should wish 
to leave Palestine and settle elsewhere we will make it easy for him to do so; we will see to it 
that the change takes place in the best conditions, and we will provide ample funds, in each 
case, for the secure establishment of a new home." He pointed out that even if hundreds of 
thousands of Arabs availed themselves of such an offer, the cost would be negligible in the 
budgets of Great Britain and the United Nations. "Would not the money be well spent?", 
asked Gollancz, "Is the tiny sacrifice it represents - were it ever necessary, as it never would 
be - too much to ask?" 

He then suggested that the destination of such a transfer could be the Arab countries 
bordering on Palestine, especially Iraq, who were crying out for an increase in population. (') 


Eliahu Ben-Horin was an active worker in the Revisionist Party. He was also on the 
editorial board of the Palestine daily newspaper "Doar Hayom" and later Chief Editor of 
"Hayarden". In the years following 1943, Ben-Horin worked with Hoover to try and 
implement a transfer plan. 

Ben-Horin's book entitled "The Middle East - Crossroads of History", contained a 

/ Ernst Frankenstein, Observations to draft report to sub-committee on "Palestine and ttie Arab States", 3 December 
1945, pp.4-5, (CZA F13/570). 

/ Frankenstein, Justice for My People, op. cit., pp. 160-61. 
^ / Victor Gollancz, Nowhere to Lay Their Heads, (London, 1945), pp.28-29. 

— 146 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

transfer proposal and was published in 1943. His suggestion was that "the bulk of the Arab 
population of Palestine and Transjordania be transferred to Iraq." He held that in such a 
transfer, the Arabs would "not be removed to a foreign land but to an Arab land" and would 
therefore find in Iraq their accustomed environment, language, religion, mode of life and 
climatic conditions. A well planned colonisation project would thus give better conditions than 
they could expect to obtain in Palestine, to both the Arab peasant and the city dweller, (i) 

After the publication of this book, it was reviewed in "The New York Times" by Philip 
E. Hitti. (^) Hitti was born in Syria, graduated from the American University of Beirut and at 
that time was professor of Semitic Literature at Princeton University. Hitti could not be 
described as a friend of Zionism and his review was very critical of Ben-Horin's book. 

With regard to Ben-Horin's transfer proposal, Hitti wrote, "that those Arabs may not 
be particularly anxious to be transferred, that some of them claim descent from the 
Canaanites of pre-Hebraic times, that the Moslems among them consider the Islamic conquest 
of Palestine in the seventh Christian century a gift from Allah that cannot be relinquished 
without compromising their faith - all these and other questions either never occurred to Mr. 
Ben-Horin or, if they did, were not deemed by him worthy of consideration." (^) 

On seeing this book review, Ben-Horin contacted Benjamin Akzin and informed him of 
the agreement of Colonel John Henry Patterson (the man who had commanded the First 
Zionist Regiment) to answer Hitti's review, on condition that Patterson would be provided 
with a draft. Ben-Horin asked Akzin to prepare such a draft, which he accordingly did, and 
he sent it to Patterson. (^) 

In fact when Patterson saw the Hitti book review "he got so mad that he sat down 
himself and wrote the letter." (^) A shortcoming of this letter was that it was too long, (^) but 
the Editor of that paper's "Book Reviews" agreed that Norton, the publisher of Ben-Horin's 
book, could send them a condensed version. (') 

In answer to Hitti's criticism of Ben-Horin's transfer plan, Patterson wrote that on this 
subject "Hitti's antagonism to the book becomes overtly open ... I could not refrain from smiling 
at Mr. Hitti's 'strongest' argument against this plan - namely that the Arabs got Palestine as 
'a gift from Allah that cannot be relinquished without compromising their faith'. Is Hitti 
ignorant of the fact that the same Allah gave Palestine to the Jews over 2,500 years before 
the Moslem faith was revealed to the Arabs?" (*) 

There is also an undated letter by Ben-Horin to "The New York Times Book Review", 
but it is not clear whether this letter was actually sent. In it, Ben-Horin wrote with regard to 
his transfer proposal, "Mr. Hitti does not condescend to an analysis of the .project. He does not 
even attempt to refute the arguments of my book in favor of such a settlement, apt to greatly 
benefit the Palestinian Arabs, the State of Iraq and the Jewish people - and also to contribute 
to the consolidation of order and peace in the Middle East." Ben-Horin felt that he could not 
take seriously Hitti's comments that before writing his book he did not enquire what the 
reactions of the Arabs of Palestine would be to such a proposal. He felt that "if the United 
Nations are determined to have order and peace in the world, they will have to take many 
measures in disregard of the wishes of this or that uncooperative community. It is with the 
elimination of the causes for future friction and wars that we should be concerned, and with 
very little else.... Mr. Hitti has chosen the all too easy path of slighting ideas without 
analysing them." (') 

Another book review was published in February 1944 in the American Revisionist paper 
"Zionews". The reviewer mentioned Ben-Horin's transfer plan but without any editorial 

/ Ben-Horin, The Middle East, op. cit., pp.230-31. 

/ "Bridge Between Two Worlds", The New York Times Book Review, 12 September 1943, p. 15. 

/ Ibid. 

/ Akzin to Patterson, 20 September 1943, (CZA A300/37). 

/ Ben-Horin to Norton, 23 September 1943, (CZA A300/37). 

/ Ben-Horin to Patterson, 24 September 1943, (CZA A300/37). 

/ Ben-Horin(?) to Patterson, 28 September 1943, (CZA A300/37). 

/ Patterson, Letters to the Editor, The New York Times Book Review, 31 October 1943, p. 38. 

/ Ben-Horin to Editor The New York Times Book Review, Addition to Letter, [n.d.], (CZA A300/37). 

— 147 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

comment. {^) 


Israel Ben-Shem was a leader of the Zionist Worker movement and also a Biblical 

In April 1942, he addressed the Fifth Histadrut Convention and spoke in favour of 
transfer. During the course of his address, Ben-Shem said that one needs to think of the end 
result. The land will either go to the Jews or to the Arabs - a partnership was not possible. 
One had to bring to the attention of the world the sufferring of millions of Jews during the 
course of thousands of years, and insist that all of Palestine be given to the Jews. "Our 
previous generation knew how to solve tragic problems and positively. I am referring to 
population transfer. I will tell Hashomer Hazair things which I said to them at one of the 
Council meetings of the Histadrut and I never received an answer from them: What is this 
thing? There was an Arab village in a place where now stands a Hashomer Hazair kibbutz. 
There was a second village, and a third, etc. etc." He then quoted an example of an Arab 
village whose inhabitants had been transferred and he suggested that such transfer could be 
carried out a thousandfold. (^) 

/ Book Review, Zionews, (New York), vol.v, no.l, February 1944, p.22. 
2 / Stenographic Report, Fifth Histadrut Convention, AprU 1942, (Tel-Aviv, 1942), p. 146. 

— 148 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 




Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the thirty-second President of the United States and 
held this office for an unprecedented thirteen years until his death in 1945. 

It would seem that Roosevelt's interest in transferring Arabs from Palestine began in 
October 1938. At that period. Justice Louis Brandeis had a meeting with Roosevelt. Brandeis 
reported on this meeting to Felix Frankfurter who in turn passed on the report to Stephen Wise 
and to presidential advisor and script-writer Ben Cohen. 

In his report of this meeting Brandeis pointed out how Roosevelt appreciated the 
significance of Palestine, "the need of keeping it whole and of making it Jewish. He was 
tremendously interested - and wholly surprised - on learning of the great increase in Arab 
population since the War; and on learning of the plentitude of land for Arabs in Arab 
countries, about which he made specific inquiries." (^) 

Two historians, Zaha Bustami (^) and Leo Kanawada (^) both make an error in stating 
that this meeting took place between Roosevelt and Frankfurter, instead of with Brandeis. 
Furthermore Bustami also comments, "it is difficult to tell who brought up this subject during 
the meeting, but the information on Arab demography was provided by Frankfurter." (*) But 
it is quite clear from Frankfurter's letter that this meeting was with Brandeis. However, a 
few days earlier a meeting did take place between the President and Frankfurter to discuss 
the Palestine situation, (') although details of what the Roosevelt said at this meeting have 
not been traced. 

On 25th of that month, Roosevelt had a meeting with the British Ambassador to the 
U.S., Sir Ronald Lindsay. Reporting on this meeting, Lindsay wrote that the President was 
"impressed by the fact that the Arab population [of Palestine] had increased by 400,000 since 
the establishment of the Mandate." He also considered that by a programme of well-digging 
across the Jordan, a large quantity of water could be made available for irrigation and the 
cultivable land thus created "should be set apart for Arabs from Palestine. They should be 
offered land free, and that ought to be enough to attract them; and failing the attraction, 
they should be compelled to emigrate to it. Palestine could thus be relieved of 200,000 Arabs". 
He added that it would also "be necessary to prescribe that no Arab should be allowed to 

' / Frankfurter to Wise, 18 October 1938, op. cit. 

/ Zaha B. Bustami, American Foreign Policy and Question of Palestine 1856-1939, (Georgetown University, 
Washington D.C., 1989), p. 438. 

/ Leo V. Kanawada, Jr, Franklin D. Roosevelt's Diplomacy and American Catholics, Italians, and Jews, (Ann Arbor, 
'^ I Bustami, op. cit., fn.l79. 

/ Telegram, Mclntyre to Wise, 12 October 1938, (American Jewish Historical Society, P-134 Stephen S. Wise papers, 
box 181, folder "Roosevelt F. D."). 

— 149 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

immigrate into Palestine, and no Jew into the Arab lands." Roosevelt estimated that this 
programme would "cost from twenty to thirty million pounds 'but we ought to be able to find 
that money for the purpose'". Lindsay concluded "there was an implication that 'we' meant 
the Jewish community of America, but that is by no means certain." (i) 

A report of this meeting is also given by Adolf Berle, the Assistant Secretary of State. It 
is possible that Roosevelt had reported to Berle on this meeting, since there is no evidence 
that Berle was present; (Bustami, however suggests that he was present (^)). Berle wrote, 
"The President was full of Palestine. He had suggested to Ronald Lindsay that they call a 
conference of Arab princes; that they lay down, say $200,000,000 buying a farm for every Arab 
who wishes to leave Palestine, the money chiefly to be used in digging wells, which is 
perfectly possible in the Hedjaz." (^) Here, it is quite clear that Roosevelt intended the Arabs 
to pay for the transfer. 

With Roosevelt's frame of mind on that question at that time, it was considered quite 
possible that he would bring up the question again. Lindsay therefore asked Lancelot 
Oliphant of the British Foreign Office to have someone prepare a "short answer to this 
scheme" to have in readiness, although he stressed that he would not take the initiative in 
sending a reply to the President. (*) 

Lindsay's request was first dealt with by Lacy Baggalay of the Foreign Office. He first 
quoted experts who held that the possibilities of finding water in quantity by boring in 
Transjordan were "quite restricted". He then continued, "But even assuming that water could 
be found in large quantities, it is now out of the question that any Arabs should be 'compelled' 
to emigrate to the lands thus brought into cultivation. Whatever else may remain uncertain 
about the problem of Palestine, the impossibility of compulsion on this scale is now beyond 
dispute. Finally and in general, the President's suggestion, in which he has doubtless been 
coached by the Zionist leaders of America, is based on the old fallacy that the problem of 
Palestine, which has now become a political and sentimental issue of the first importance to 
the whole Arab and indeed the whole Moslem world, can be solved by economic sops and 
financial assistance." (') We must remember that this was written just after the Woodhead 
Commission had published their report "repealing" the Peel Report which had recommended 
transfer by compulsion if necessary. 

Someone else added a handwritten note, referring to the Woodhead Commission's 
conclusion that digging of wells in the area would not be effective. (^) 

On the basis of this material, Oliphant sent a reply to Lindsay. After quoting in some 
detail the ineffectiveness of boring wells in the area, he went on say that the British 
government would not even contemplate such an idea, and it would be "thoroughly unjust" to 
compel the Arabs to transfer from Palestine "to make room for immigrants [Jews] of a totally 
different race who have had no connexion with it [Palestine] for at least 2,000 years." He also 
brought, in his words, the "fallacy" which Roosevelt was using to try and solve the Palestine 
problem. (') 

Who gave Roosevelt the idea that irrigation of the Transjordan desert would create a 
suitable location for the Arab transferees?. Kanawada suggests that the indications are that 
it came from the State Department where at that period Edward Norman was in contact with 
government officials to advance his own transfer plans. (*) Although Norman was at the time 
in contact with the State Department, his plans were in fact to irrigate Iraq by means of the 
dams it had recently constructed. 

A suggestion by Bustami on this question is more plausible. He discounts Kanawada's 

^ / Lindsay to Oliphant, 3 November 1938, (PRO FO 371/21883 E6606/ 10/31). 
2 / Bustami, op. cit., p.439 fn.l82. 

/ Memorandum, Adolf Berle, Jr, 1 November 1938, (Franklin D. Roosevelt Library). 

/ Lindsay to Oliphant, 3 November 1938, op. cit. 
^ / Minutes, Baggalay, Foreign Office London, 10 November 1938, (PRO FO 371/21883 E6606/10/31). 
*> / Handwritten note, 10 November 1938, (PRO FO 371/21883 E6606/10/31). 
7 / Oliphant to Lindsay, 11 November 1938, (PRO FO 371/21883 E6606/10/31). 

/ Kanawada, op. cit. pp. 117-18. 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

suggestion (1) and writes, "The genesis of Roosevelt's idea is difficult to determine. A forcible 
or voluntary eviction of Palestinian Arabs to Trans-Jordan or other neighboring lands was 
advocated seriously, though not publicly, in Zionist circles in the summer of 1938. The most 
probable, though perhaps not the only, channels were Brandeis and Frankfurter." (^) 

Roosevelt summoned Lindsay for a further meeting, presumably during the first half of 
November. At this meeting, the President said that he thought that "the British should call 
in some of the Arab leaders from Palestine and some of the leaders from the adjoining Arab 
countries. The British should explain to them that they, the Arabs, had within their control 
large territories ample to sustain their people." He also pointed out that Jewish immigration 
to Palestine and Transjordan would not harm the Arabs since there was plenty of room for 
everyone. Roosevelt then went on to propose transfer of Arabs, "Some of the Arabs on poor land 
in Palestine could be given much better land in adjoining Arab countries." 

Lindsay answered Roosevelt by saying that there was opposition in both the Arab and 
Moslem world but the President "belittled this opposition and thought it due largely to 
British indecision and conflicting policy." (^) 

Roosevelt also had ideas for financing this transfer. He thought that "if a plan was 
devised for a settlement of 100,000 famihes costing $3,000 a family or $300,000,000, the funds 
might be raised" by the American Government, the British and French Governments, and 
private subscriptions - largely Jewish; each of these bodies would contribute $100,000,000. C) 

Towards the end of December the British Charge d'Affaires in Washington met with 
Sumner Welles and handed him a memorandum on transfer received from the British 
Government, adding that Roosevelt would probably be interested in it. (') 

After pointing out that the latest available evidence did not bear out the belief that 
any considerable quantity of water could be obtained in Transjordan at shallow levels by 
boring wells, the memorandum continued, "Suggestions have also been made that if the free 
offer of cultivable land in Transjordan did not suffice to attract the Arabs from Palestine, they 
might be compelled to emigrate from it, with the object of vacating land in Palestine for 
settlement by Jews." The British Government saw great difficulties in such a compulsion. Not 
only would it be beyond their powers, but the morality of attempting such coercion would be 
questioned in Britain, India and the Moslem world. His Majesty's Government would be 
accused of "unjustly trying to force a long-established community to leave its country in order 
to make room for immigrants of a race which has, in great part, not lived in Palestine for 
many centuries." The British Government also felt that the problem of "redistribution of the 
Arab and Jewish communities in Palestine and across the Jordan" was not one of finance but 
rather of politics. (^) 

A few days earlier, Louis D. Brandeis, an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme 
Court and a leading Jewish Zionist had sent a newscutting to Roosevelt regarding the transfer 
by agreement of an entire Bedouin tribe to Transjordan in order to make way for Jewish 
villages. (') 

In his reply to Brandeis, Roosevelt enclosed the memorandum which he had received 
from the British Embassy. Roosevelt felt that apart from Transjordan, "the British ought to 
explore for water to the south and to the north." He added that he had heard from the 
French that "the land in Arabia across the Red Sea from Djibouti and back of the coastal 
range of mountains, has all kinds of possibility for settlement - and also that the Iraq people 
are entirely willing to take a large Arab population for settlement on their newly irrigated 
lands." (*) Brandeis replied that "the British attitude is deplorable. But ultimately - if we 

^ / Bustami, op. cit., p.440 fn.l83. 
2 /Ibid.,pp.440-41. 

/ Cohen to Frankfurter, 21 November 1938, (Library of Congress, Frankfurter papers, box 45). 
* / Ibid. 

/ Sumner Welles to Roosevelt, 22 December 1938, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Foreign Affairs, vol.12, (New York, 
[n.d.]), (henceforth FDR), p.348. 

^ / British Memorandum, 20 December 1938, FDR, pp.349-50. 

^ / Brandeis to Roosevelt, 21 December 1938, & Press Release, 20 December 1938, FDR, pp.346-47. 
^ / Roosevelt to Brandeis, 17 December 1938, FDR, p.356. 

— 151 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

insist - folly will yield to reason and the right." {^) 

About that period, in a letter to Brandeis, Roosevelt put forward his own plan for the 
transfer of a large number of Arabs from Palestine to Iraq. In a meeting with Solomon Goldman 
and Stephen Wise, Roosevelt either mentioned his plan or showed them a copy of his letter to 

On 13 March 1939, a meeting took place between Brandeis, Goldman, Frankfurter, Wise 
and Ben Cohen. At this meeting Brandeis showed them a letter he had received from 
Roosevelt. As far as Goldman recalls this letter, it "included the suggestion that certainly 
those of the 400,000 Arabs who have entered Palestine since the Balfour Declaration are not 
entitled to the same consideration as the Jews. Made the suggestion that perhaps a transfer of 
these Arabs to Iraq could be considered." (^) It is possible that this is the letter we have just 
referred to, or alternatively, in view of the further details contained in the letters sent by 
Goldman to Ben-Gurion and Weizmann during the subsequent months, it is likely that 
Roosevelt had sent Brandeis a second letter on this subject. (^) 

The letter to Ben-Gurion from Goldman was written during the following month. It was a 
long letter which included a report on the meeting with Roosevelt. Goldman noted that in his 
letter to Brandeis, Roosevelt wrote like a complete and enthusiastic Zionist showing great 
sympathy and understanding. Goldman continued, "He writes about the transfer of several 
hundred thousand Arabs from Palestine to Iraq. In order to make possible this transfer, he 
suggests the establishment of a fund of three hundred million dollars. He thinks that it would 
be possible to collect one hundred million from the Jews, the British Government would loan 
one hundred (million) and the American Government would loan a third of the required sum." 
Goldman added that he gained the feeling that here was a true friend who wanted to do a lot 
to help but whose popularity was unfortunately on the wane. {'•) 

In June of that year, Goldman wrote a letter to Weizmann in which he also gave the 
contents of the letter from Roosevelt to Brandeis. Quoting from memory, Goldman wrote that 
Roosevelt had stated "that two to three hundred thousand Arabs can and must be moved from 
Palestine to Iraq." After explaining Roosevelt's ideas for the financing of this plan, Goldman 
added that Roosevelt "seemed to indicate that as soon as he was somewhat relieved from the 
pressure of other affairs, he might try to tackle the job." (^) One should note that unlike the 
report quoted above, Goldman in his letters to both Ben-Gurion and Weizmann reported that 
the British and American governments would only be loaning the money. 

No trace of this letter sent by Roosevelt to Brandeis has been found, although, since 
Goldman wrote in his letters to both Ben-Gurion and Weizmann that he saw it, it certainly 
existed. However we do know that in a meeting which took place on Saturday, 19 November 
1938 between "Isaiah" (nickname for Brandeis) and Roosevelt, the latter put forward such a 
transfer plan. This is reported in a letter sent by Ben Cohen to Frankfurter on 21 November 
1938. (^) 

The historian Peter Grose in his book "Israel in the Mind of America", reports that on 
two occasions, Roosevelt raised his plan with British representatives but he was "firmly told 
that no amount of financial inducement would move the Palestinian Arabs." Roosevelt 
however, was unconvinced by this British reply. (') Whether Grose is referring to the 
meetings which took place towards the end of 1938, or to meetings at some later date is not 

In February 1940, Weizmann had his first meeting with Roosevelt. At this meeting, 
Roosevelt put forward the idea of bribing the Arabs, asking Weizmann "What about the 
Arabs? Can't that be settled with a little baksheesh?" Weizmann replied that "it wasn't as 

/ Brandeis to Roosevelt, 28 December 1938, FDR, p.358. 

/ Medoff, Zionism and the Arabs, op. cit., p. 86. 

/ Ibid. 

/ Goldman to Ben-Gurion, 6 AprU 1939, pp.1-2, (BGA). 

/ Goldman to Weizmann, 20 June 1939, p.l, (WA). 

/ Cohen to Frankfurter, 21 November 1938, op. cit. 

/ Peter Grose, Israel in the Mind of America, (New York, 1983), pp. 138-39. 

— 152 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

simple as all that. Of course they would compensate the Arabs in a reasonable way for 
anything they got, but there were other factors appertaining to a settlement." {^) Transfer is 
not directly mentioned here, although it is indicated in Weizmann's answer - "they would 
compensate the Arabs... for anything they got." Historians are divided on the meaning of 
Roosevelt's statement regarding "a little baksheesh". Grose (^) maintains that it refers to 
transferring the Arabs, whereas Selig Adler, Professor of American History at Suny Buffalo 
and an authority on Roosevelt, (^) understands it to mean bribing the Arabs to accept "large- 
scale Jewish settlement" in Palestine. 

Two and a half years later, in December 1942, Roosevelt told Treasury Secretary, Henry 
Morgenthau, "I actually would put a barbed wire around Palestine, and I would begin to move 
the Arabs out of Palestine.... I would provide land for the Arabs in some other part of the 
Middle East.... Each time we move out an Arab we would bring in another Jewish family.... 
But I don't want to bring in more than they can economically support.... It would be an 
independent nation just like any other nation.... Naturally, if there are 90 per cent Jews, the 
Jews would dominate the government.... There are lots of places to which you could move the 
Arabs. All you have to do is drill a well because there is a large underground water supply, 
and we can move the Arabs to places where they can really live." C) [The various "4 dots" 
during the course of this quote indicate questions put by Morgenthau to Roosevelt. For 
example, Morgenthau asks, "Would you have the Jews buy up the land?" and "Would you 
propose that the majority should be Jews in Palestine?" (')] 

In October 1943, the question of "barbed-wire" around Palestine came up again in a 
conversation between Roosevelt and Judge Samuel Rosenman, Justice of the New York Supreme 
Court and speechwriter and counsellor to Roosevelt. Roosevelt had spoken of the "possibility 
of settling the Palestine question by letting the Jews in to the limit that the country will 
support them - with a barbed-wire fence around the Holy Land." Rosenman thought that this 
would work "if the fence was a two-way one to keep the Jews in and the Arabs out." (^) 

At the beginning of November 1944, Roosevelt was elected President for an 
unprecedented fourth term. A few days later, Roosevelt discussed the Palestine situation with 
the Under-Secretary of State, Edward Stettinius. After telling Roosevelt of their difficulties 
regarding Palestine, Stettinius wrote in his diary, that Roosevelt felt confident that he 
would be able to "iron out" the whole Arab-Jewish issue. "He thinks Palestine should be for 
the Jews and no Arabs should be in it", continued Stettinius, "and he has definite ideas on the 
subject. It should be exclusive Jewish territory." (') 

Roosevelt developed his ideas for the transfer of the Arabs from Palestine during the 
last six or seven years of his life. His views became more extreme as time progressed. 
Originally recommending the transfer of two hundred thousand Arabs, he eventually stated 
unequivocally that "Palestine should be for the Jews and no Arabs should be in it." 

Almost all the statements on this subject are written not by Roosevelt himself, but by the 
various people he worked and met with. This however, is characteristic of Franklin D. 
Roosevelt. As Selig Adler wrote, "But FDR (Roosevelt) was a man who always had one eye 
cocked on historians who would someday assess his role in history. He tried to cover his 
historical tracks, using unrecorded telephone conversations and unrecorded private 
interviews. As a result, the Roosevelt papers, too, are not as rich as one would hope." (*) 

/ Note of Conversation between Roosevelt and Weizmann, 8 February 1940, p.2, (WA). 

/ Grose, Israel in the Mind of America, op. cit., p. 139. 

/ Selig Adler, "Franklin D. Roosevelt and Zionism - The Wartime Record", Judaism, (New York), Issue 83, vol.21, no.3. 
Summer 1972, p.269. 

/ Morganthau Presidential Diary, 3 December 1942, (Franklin D. Roosevelt Library) ; John Morton Blum, Roosevelt 
and Morgenthau. From the Morgenthau Diaries, (Boston, 1970), pp.519-20. 

/ Morganthau Presidential Diary, 3 December 1942, op. cit. 
^ / Waiiam D. Hassett, Off the Record with F.D.R. 1942 - 1945, (New Jersey, 1958), p.209. 

/ The Diaries of Edward R. Stettinius Jr. 1943 - 1946, ed. Thomas M. Campbell and George C. Herring, (New York, 
1975), p.l70. 

/ Selig Adler et al., America and the Holy Land, A colloquium, (Jerusalem, 1972), p. 12. 

— 153 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 


Herbert Clark Hoover, a Republican, was the thirty-first President of the United 
States. He held this post from 1929 to 1933. In his post-presidential years, he continued to 
take an active part in public service. 

Hoover's Initial Proposal for Transfer 

In 1943, Hoover together with Hugh Gibson (a former U.S. ambassador to Belgium), 
published their book "The Problems of Lasting Peace". When discussing "Irredentas", the 
authors realised that the nations of Europe would be faced with problems of mixed 
populations on their borders and long bitter experience had shown that European irredentas 
were a constant source of war. Their solution to this problem was: "Consideration should be 
given even to the heroic remedy of transfer of populations." They added that the "hardship 
of moving is great, but it is less than the constant suffering of minorities and the constant 
recurrence of war." (i) 

It was during that year that Hoover first put forward the idea of transfer for the Arabs 
of Palestine. In July 1943, an "Emergency Conference to Save the Jewish People of Europe" was 
held in New York. Hoover, who was at that time in San Francisco, addressed this conference 
by telephone. He pointed out that the long-term solution to this problem was divided into two 
phases - where to move the Jews so as to give them permanent security, and how to establish 
them in that place. He concluded that one such destination was Palestine, adding, "but after 
all Palestine would absorb only a part of the three or four millions whom this Conference has 
been discussing as needing relief. This could be accomplished only by moving the Arab 
population to some other quarter." He realised however that this was a problem which could 
not be settled during the war. (^) 

Less than a fortnight later. Judge Louis Levinthal, one of the leaders of the Zionist 
Organization of America, had a long meeting with Hoover. (') Levinthal reported that 
during this meeting Hoover told him: "1) That in his opinion Palestine cannot become a Jewish 
Commonwealth when the Arabs are evacuated to other countries in the Near East. [From the 
context there is obviously a typographical error and instead of "when", one must substitute 
"unless".] 2) That this evacuation cannot be voluntary, but must be compulsory, imposed by the 
British or the United Nations. 3) That the British are afraid to impose such compulsory 
evacuation because of the repercussion on the 'Arab world'." Later in that meeting. Hoover 
considered that rather than give Kenya and Tanganyika as a haven for refugees, Britain 
would "much prefer to make a real Jewish State of Palestine, and will even force the Arabs to 
evacuate to the Arab countries, investing the necessary funds to develop these undeveloped 
lands [Arab countries] so as to receive the Arabs from Palestine." (*) 

Hoover's Statement to "World-Telegram" 

It seems that during the next two years. Hoover did nothing to advance his plan for the 
transfer of Arabs from Palestine. BenHorin (who had been retained by the American Zionist 
Emergency Council as a full-time adviser on Middle East affairs) reports in his unpublished 
autobiography that in 1945 Abba Hillel Silver, a co-chairman of this Council, asked him 
whether he "could get a statement from Mr. Hoover in support of our position." Ben-Horin 
answered that he would try, and the opportunity arose on the following day (according to 
Hoover's calendar, this was 25 October 1945 (^)) when he met with Hoover. When he made 
his request. Hoover answered, "I am willing to issue a statement, but not the one you have in 

/ Herbert Hoover and Hugh Gibson, The Problems of Lasting Peace, (New York, 1943), pp.235-36. 
/ Remarks over Columbia Broadcasting System to the Emergency Conference to Save the Jews of Europe, 25 July 
1943, p.2, (HH PPS - Jews - Bible 2773) ; "President Pledges Aid to Save Jews", The New York Times, 26 July 1943, p.l9. 
/ Calendar, 6 August 1943, (HH Presidential Papers - Calendar [via internet]). 
/ Levinthal to Arthur, 6 August 1943, (The Temple, Harold Manson papers). 
/ Calendar, Search Results - Eliahu Ben-Horin, (HH Presidential Papers - Calendar [via internet]). 

— 154 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

mind. I was impressed with the plan you outhne in your book ... for a transfer of Palestine's 
fellaheen to Iraq. What is more, it is a solution which would greatly benefit all concerned: 
the Jewish people, the Palestinian Arabs and the State of Iraq. I am willing to propose this 
solution in a statement to the press." Ben-Horin answered Hoover, "But you probably know 
that the Zionist Organization does not favor such a transfer." [This maybe true as far as 
official policy went, although as we can see this was certainly not the view of the various 
members of this organisation.] Hoover answered "with a twinkle in his eye: 'Fortunately, I 
am not a member of the Zionist Organization, and my statement would not be in their name.'" 
Hoover just wanted to know "whether such a statement by him would be welcome to the 
Zionist movement and would be considered a positive contribution to the solution of the 
Palestine problem. After consulting Dr. Silver, I gave him this assurance. Thus the 'Hoover 
Plan' was born." (i) 

To assist Hoover prepare his statement, Ben-Horin sent him a booklet. When 
acknowledging receipt. Hoover wrote, "I have now gone over some fifteen books! I am trying to 
boil a statement down to 200 words." (^) On the same day. Hoover wrote in another letter to 
Ben-Horin, "I have purposely omitted any emotional phrase or appeal. The people to be 
reached by such statements as this are more convinced in this way." (^) 

Hoover's first draft C) is dated 14 November 1945. His final typewritten version, (^) 
which is dated the following day, is identical (except for a few insubstantial words here and 
there) to his statement which appeared in the "New York World-Telegram" of 19 November 

The statement appeared under the main heading, "Hoover Urges Resettling Arabs to 
solve Palestine Problem", and this was followed by two subsidiary headings, "Says Irrigation 
could provide Good Iraqi Land", and "Believes Migration Would End Conflict over Jewish 

Hoover approached the problem as an engineer and considered that there was a sane 
and practical solution to the Palestine problem. As a result of his solution, the "emotional, 
racial and political aspects of the problem would be subordinated in a process by which both 
Jews and Arabs would benefit materially." 

In reply to the question posed by the "World-Telegram" as to whether he believed any 
sound or practical basis existed for settlement of the highly inflammatory Jewish-Arab 
question. Hoover replied that "there is a possible plan of settling the Palestine question and 
providing ample Jewish refuge." He felt that it was worth serious investigation since it 
offered a "constructive humanitarian solution." [When Hoover wrote his first draft, he was 
far less sure of his plan's possible success since he wrote, "There is a possible - possibly remote 
- method of settling the Palestine question ..."] 

Hoover went on to summarise the history of the irrigation system in Iraq. "In ancient 
times the irrigation of the Tigris and the Euphrates valleys supported probably 10 million 
people in the kingdoms of Babylon and Ninevah." This was the most densely populated area 
on earth and the granary of the world. Hoover said that the subsequent deterioration and 
destruction of these irrigation works by the Mongol invaders centuries later, were responsible 
for the shrinkage of the population to about three and a half million in modern Iraq. In 1909, 
Sir William Willcocks, an eminent British engineer and adviser to the Ottoman Ministry of 
Public Works put forward a proposal to restore the old irrigation system in Iraq. According to 
Hoover, Willcocks estimated that nearly three million acres of the most fertile land in the 
world could be recovered at a cost of under one hundred and fifty million dollars. However 
only part of Willcocks plan was executed by the British engineering firm of Sir John Jackson 
Ltd. between 1911 and 1913, since the lack of financial resources of the Iraqi Government and 
the delays of war greatly retarded this work. 

^ / Eliahu Ben-Horin, A Brick for the Bridge, p.l84, (CZA A300/1). 
/ Hoover to Ben-Horin, 14 November 1945, (HH PPS - Jewish- Zionist, Clippings). 
/ Hoover to Ben-Horin, 14 November 1945, (HH PPS - Jewish- Zionist, Clippings). 
/ Unheaded statement by Hoover, 14 November 1945, (HH PPS - Jewish-Zionist, Clippings). 
/ Unheaded statement by Hoover, 15 November 1945, (HH PPS - Jewish-Zionist, Clippings). 

— 155 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Hoover continued, "Some years ago it was proposed that this area should be developed 
for settlement by Jewish refugees. This did not however, satisfy the Jewish desire for a 
homeland." The plan referred to by Hoover was possibly that proposed about half a century 
earlier, when it had been suggested that twenty miles of each side of the Baghdad railway 
should be handed over to Jews from Russia and Poland. 

Hoover then put forward his plan for transfer of the Arabs from Palestine. "My own 
suggestion is that Iraq might be financed to complete this great land development on the 
consideration that it be made the scene of resettlement of the Arabs from Palestine. This 
would clear the Palestine completely for a large Jewish emigration and colonization." (i) [The 
word "emigration" instead of "immigration" is used in both drafts and also in the "World- 
Telegram" - maybe Hoover's intention was that Jews would emigrate from the Diaspora 
countries to Palestine. In the daily news bulletin of the Palcor News Agency, quoting from this 
statement, the word "immigration" is in fact used instead of "emigration". {^)] 

A suggestion for funding Hoover's plan was put forward by Elisha M. Friedman, at that 
time, a member of the American Economic Committee for Palestine, on the Board of the 
American Friends of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and on the Finance Committee of 
the Palestine Endowment Funds and the Hadassah Medical Organisation. In a letter to "The 
New York Times", Friedman recommended linking the cost of the scheme estimated at around 
one hundred million dollars to reparations for the property of the seven million Jews of 
Europe. This property destroyed by the Nazis, was conservatively estimated at eight billion 
dollars. "Are the survivors entitled to no reparation - not even 1 per cent?" asked Friedman. 
"The number of Jews killed is officially stated at six million... The nations of the world did 
not avert the murder of these millions of Jews. Let them save the Jewish remnant. An 
international reparation loan for the Jews by the United Nations Organization to irrigate 
Iraq should be issued to finance Mr. Hoover's proposal." (^) 

Hoover's statement to the "World-Telegram" continued, "A suggestion of transfer of the 
Arab people of Palestine was made by the British Labour Party in December 1944 but no 
adequate plan was proposed as to where or how they were to go." (^) [Although the text of the 
resolution of the Labour Party did not mention where the Arabs were to go, the Acting Leader 
of the Parliamentary Labour Party, Arthur Greenwood, had in June 1944 suggested Iraq as the 
destination of transfer.] One should note that the first draft did not mention the British 
Labour Party's transfer proposal. Maybe he was not aware of it when he wrote this draft. 

"There is room for many more Arabs in such a development of Iraq than the total of 
Arabs in Palestine," continued Hoover, "The soil is more fertile. They would be among their 
own race, which is Arab speaking and Mohammedan." [This latter advantage had also been 
indicated eight years earlier, by the British Colonial Secretary when he appeared before the 
Permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations.] 

Hoover pointed out that "the Arab population of Palestine would be the gainer from 
better lands in exchange for their present holdings. Iraq would be the gainer for it badly needs 
agricultural population." In his letter to "The New York Times", Friedman brought support 
for this opinion from a paper presented by the Prime Minister of Iraq, Jafar Pasha al-Askari 
to the Royal Asia Society in London in 1926. al-Askari said, "The size of the country is 150,000 
square miles, about three times that of England and Wales, while the population is only 
three million... What Iraq wants above everything else is more population." Friedman then 
quoted from the book "Palestine, Land of Promise", by Walter Clay Lowdermilk, Chief of the 
Soil Conservation of the United States, "In the great alluvial plain of the Tigris and 
Euphrates Valley there is land enough for vast numbers of immigrants." (^) 

Hoover had suggested his plan at a time when millions of people were being moved from 

/ "Hoover Urges Resettling Arabs to Solve Palestine Problem", World - Telegram, (New York), 19 November 1945, p.l. 
/ "Ex-President Hoover on the Palestine Question", Palcor News Agency. Palestine telegraphic service. Bulletin, 
(London), vol.ix, no. 16, 22 November 1945, p.2. 
/ Elisha Friedman, Letters to the Editor, The New York Times, 16 December 1945, p.8E. 
/ World - Telegram, op. cit. 
/ Friedman, New York Tunes, op. cit. 

— 156 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

one land to another. Immediately after the Second World War (1945), some nine and a half 
million Germans were physically driven into Germany from the countries of Eastern Europe. 
The transfer from Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary had been carried out with the prior 
approval of the three Great Powers participating in the Potsdam Conference in the summer of 
1945. These transfers had been carried out in such a way that many hundreds of thousands, if 
not millions of refugees had died in the process. Their property had been confiscated and no- 
one had even suggested paying them compensation. 

In contrast to this. Hoover said of the transfer of the Arabs from Palestine to Iraq, "If 
the lands were organized and homes provided, this particular movement could be made the 
model migration of history. It would be a solution by engineering instead of by conflict." {^) 

In his first draft. Hoover had based his whole plan on obtaining the consent of the Iraqi 
Government. The final paragraph of this draft thus read, "To determine the possibilities of 
this plan, it would be necessary to learn from the Iraq Government if they would approve such 
a plan and to enlist the support of various Jewish and Arab leaders to the idea and their co- 
operation in its consummation." (^) 

However, under the influence of Ben-Horin, Hoover deleted this condition. Indeed, two 
months later, in a meeting between Hoover, Ben-Horin and Friedman, Hoover was to accept 
fully Ben-Horin's view that "we should not bother at all about the approval or support of the 
British or of the Iraqians until the plan is prepared in all its aspects and the report is 
published under the name of outstanding people and let the British and the Iraqians object to 
the plan then, thus taking upon themselves the odium of rejecting a sound and logical project 
proposed by men of standing." At this meeting. Hoover also made it absolutely clear that his 
primary interest did not lie in Iraq but in Palestine and in solving the Palestinian problem by 
means of handing over the land to the Jewish people. (') He thus rewrote this paragraph to 
read, "I realize that the plan offers a challenge both to the statesmanship of the Great 
Powers as well as to the good-will of all parties concerned. However, I submit it and it does 
offer a method of settlement with both honor and wisdom." (*) 

It seems that Hoover's statement was first released to the "New York World-Telegram" 
who published it on the first page of their paper on 19 November. The historian Rafael 
Medoff comments: "This was evidently by prior arrangement; the article began by falsely 
asserting that Hoover's plan was 'offered in response to an inquiry by the World-Telegram as 
to whether he believes any sound or practical basis exists for settlement of the highly 
inflammatory Jewish-Arab question.'" (^) 

Distribution was certainly not limited to this paper. In fact the Associated Press sent 
Hoover's statement to more than 350 newspapers in the U.S., but to Hoover's annoyance only 
seven published it. ('') The Yiddish language newspapers of New York, however, gave it 
publicity. "Der Tog" published his entire statement translated into Yiddish. (') A few days 
later, another Yiddish newspaper, "Der Morgen Journal" wrote a very favourable Editorial 
under the heading "Hoover Plan for Arabs". It described the plan as a "very practical solution 
to the Palestine problem" and considered it important that it was prepared by a non-Jew: 
"Should this plan have originated from Jewish sources, anti-Zionists would have surely made 
use of it to say that the Jews intend doing an injustice to Palestine's Arabs. However, if this 
plan originates with a non-Jew of Herbert Hoover's prominence, the reaction is bound to be 
entirely different." (*) 

/ World - Telegram, op. cit. 

/ Unheaded statement by Hoover, 14 November 1945, op. cit. 
3 / Ben-Horin to Silver, 23 January 1946, p.3, (CZA A300/24). 

/ Unheaded statement by Hoover, 15 November 1945, op. cit. ; World - Telegram, op. cit. 
^ / Medoff, op. cit., p.460 fn.39. 

/ Memorandum no.30, Epstein to Executive of Jewish Agency, 19 Eebruary 1946, (CZA Z6/2262) ; Eliahu Elath, The 
Struggle for the State, vol.1, (Tel-Aviv, 1979), pp.15-16. 
^ / Der Tog, (New York), 20 November 1945, pp.1,2. 

/ Editorial, "Hoover Plan for Arabs", Der Morgen Journal, (New York), 21 November 1945 p.4 ; Medoff, op. cit. p.461 
(English translation). 

— 157 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

American Zionists' Reaction to Hoover Plan 

Two days after Hoover's statement appeared in the "World-Telegram", Ben-Horin 
wrote to Hoover informing him that "the Jewish press in New York has commented very 
favorably on your proposal." (i) He also enclosed a statement issued by the American Zionist 
Emergency Council in reaction to Hoover's proposal. (}) 

This statement began by stating that the "Zionist Organization never advocated the 
transfer of Palestine's Arabs to Iraq or elsewhere" but had always maintained that Palestine 
had "room enough for its present population, Jew and Arab, and for several million more of 
Jewish settlers." It was also pointed out that Zionist enterprise in Palestine had "greatly 
benefitted" the local Arabs, improving their living standards and "increasing tremendously 
their numerical growth." 

The statement continued, "All this we state for the record." The Council then welcomed 
the plan put forward by Hoover "as an expression of constructive statesmanship. When all 
the long accepted remedies seem to fail, it is time to consider new approaches. The Hoover 
Plan certainly represents a new approach, formulated by an unprejudiced mind well trained in 
statesmanship, relief and rehabilitation." 

The statement then pointed out that the Zionists had always been willing to co-operate 
with the Arabs in solving the Palestine problem but it was the Arabs who had refused Zionist 
offers. "Whether their attitude will be different in the case of the Hoover Plan it is not for us 
to say. Should they respond to the idea, we shall be happy to cooperate with the great 
powers and the Arabs in bringing about the materialization of the Hoover Plan." 

. The statement concluded, "We highly appreciate the timing of Mr. Hoover's 
statement. Coming as it does at a time when Jewry seems to have been deserted by most of its 
friends, it will greatly encourage us in our belief that the great leaders of the Christian world 
stand ready to offer us justice, understanding and constructive assistance in the re- 
establishment of our statehood." 

Extracts from this statement appeared in several Palestine newspapers C) (as well as in 
a number of Jewish Diaspora newspapers. (^)) Hence the claim made by the historian Yoel 
Rafel that the reason that no reaction was made to this plan by the Jews of Palestine was 
that the newspaper censor of the Mandatory authorities forbade any mention of it in the 
Palestinian newspapers, (') is difficult to understand. 

At a meeting held between Hoover, Ben-Horin and Friedman, a couple of months later. 
Hoover said that he would like to know what Dr. Abba Hillel Silver, the Chairman of the 
Executive Committee of the American Zionist Emergency Council thought about his plan. In a 
letter to Silver, Ben-Horin wrote that he had informed Hoover that "you were greatly 
impressed by Mr. Hoover's initiative" adding that for "obvious reasons neither the Zionist 
Movement nor you personally could take the commitment of an official endorsement of his 
plan." Ben-Horin went on to say that he had however, assured Hoover that "his plan enjoys 
the sympathy and interest of the Zionist leadership, and of you personally." (^) In reply to 
this letter. Silver, writing on official stationery of the American Zionist Emergency Council 
said that he was "pleased that progress is being made" in connection with this plan. (') 
However, since some members of this Council objected to Hoover's plan altogether, the 
Council's discussions of the plan and deliberations on an appropriate resolution were shrouded 
in secrecy, so much so that when they adopted the Resolution, (presumably the Resolution 
quoted above), "some people insisted that it should not even be recorded." The only person 

/ Ben-Horin to Hoover, 21 November 1945, (HH PPS - Jewish- Zionist, Clippings). 

/ Comment of American Zionist Emergency Council on Hoover Plan, [n.d.] (November 1945), (HH PPS - Jewish- 
Zionist, Clippings). 

/ Palestine Post, (Jerusalem), 25 November 1945, p.l ; Ha'aretz, (Tel- Aviv), 25 November 1945, p.l. 

/ South African Jewish Chronicle, (Cape Town), vol.xxxiv, no.48, (New Series),30 November 1945, p.666 ; Palestine, 
(New York), vol.2, no.9,10, November-December 1945, p. 16; 

/ Yoel Rafel, "Transfer - the Version of President Herbert Hoover", Hadoar, (New York), vol.lxviii, no.l (2912), 4 
November 1988, p.ll. 

/ Ben-Horin to Silver, 23 January 1946, op. cit. p.2. 
^ / Silver to Ben-Horin, 25 January 1946, (CZA A300/24). 

— 158 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

outside the Council office who was given full information on the plan was Elisha Friedman. 


Another Jewish organisation to give a positive reaction to this plan was the American 
Jewish Conference, which was a coalition of all major Jewish organisations (with the 
exception of the American Jewish Committee). On 28 November, their Radio Director, Allen 
Roberts, wrote to Hoover stating that "your suggestion would, if carried out, provide a real 
solution to the perplexing problem now confronting world statesmen." He went on to say that 
the "American Jewish Conference would appreciate it if you could find time to broadcast your 
views over a national network." (^) In reply Hoover wrote, "I am sorry that I am just not able 
to undertake the suggestion you make at the present time. I am so overwhelmed with 
obligations and commitments that I cannot take on any additional." (') For a person doing his 
best to promote a plan, the refusal to utilise an opportunity to broadcast such a plan over the 
national radio seems strange. However, Hoover's biographers have pointed out that 
"throughout his career. Hoover felt uncomfortable delivering radio addresses." C) 

We can also see from a telegram sent by Hoover to the "National Committee for Labor 
Palestine" on 24 November 1945, that their National Chairman had made a "kind reference" 
to this plan. Hoover replied, "I was glad to have your kind reference to the plan I proposed 
for amelioration of the Palestine situation so as to give larger refuge to the Jews in distress. I 
am hopeful it might contribute to a solution of so grievous a problem by an .approach that 
must be beneficial to all sides." (') 

A further Zionist reaction came from Eliahu Epstein of the Jewish Agency, who, on 28 
November 1945, had a meeting with Hoover ('') to discuss his transfer plan. Hoover described 
his plan in great detail, obviously hoping for a Zionist endorsement of it. Epstein, however, 
explained to Hoover "the political inadvisability of our becoming sponsors for such a plan 
which might, despite all its good intentions for Jews and Arabs alike, lead to all kinds of 
dangerous conclusions regarding our aims in Palestine." (') It is likely Epstein's approach was 
tactical since he himself had been in the past a strong supporter of transfer of Arabs and had 
even been active in a Population Transfer Committee of the Jewish Agency. 

About two months later, on 4 January 1946 (*), Meir Grossman, leader of the Jewish State 
Party, met with Hoover to discuss this plan and a "second-hand" report was given by Ben- 
Horin. Grossman told Hoover how highly he thought of his plan and went on to say that "he 
and his people would like to arrange a dinner in Hoover's honor, with him as the main 
speaker, at which time a group would be organized to sponsor the Hoover plan." Ben-Horin 
related that Hoover was noncommittal, asked for a memorandum on these suggestions and 
hinted that he would like his (Ben-Horin's) opinion on Grossman's proposal. (') 

Zionist reaction can be summarised in a letter written by Hoover a few weeks after 
setting out his plan. He wrote that he had "received very favorable responses from several of 
the Zionist leaders" although, "for some years, the Jewish leaders were apparently not 
interested at all in this solution as they were insistent on simply opening up Palestine and 
doing it quickly." (^° ) 

Iraqi Reactions 

As to be expected, Iraqi reactions to Hoover's transfer plan were extremely hostile. 
The American Secretary of State was informed of the Iraqi reactions in a telegram 
which was sent to him from Baghdad by Moose. In this telegram. Moose said Hoover's 

^ / Ben-Horin to Friedman, 28 lanuary 1946, (CZA A300/24). 

/ Roberts to IHioover, 28 November 1945, (HH PPS - American Jewish Congress). 

/ Hoover to Roberts, 30 November 1945, (HH PPS - American Jewish Congress). 
^ I Medoff, op. cit., p.462 fn.46. 

/ Western Union Telegram, Hoover to Joseph Schlossberg, 24 November 1945, (HH PPS - Palestine). 

/ Calendar, 28 November 1945, (HH Presidential Papers - Calendar). 

/ Memorandum, Epstein to Executive of Jewish Agency, 19 February 1946, op. cit. 

/ Calendar, 4 January 1946, (HH Presidential Papers - Calendar [via internet]). 
^ / Ben-Horin to Friedman, 4 February 1946, (CZA A300/24). 
^^ / Hoover to McDonald, 11 December 1945, op. cit. 

— 159 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

proposal made the front page in Baghdad's papers of 22 November, under such headings as 
"Fiendish American proposal - Iraq after Palestine", "From the insides of Truman's bomb 
comes a new Zionist proposal", "No sir! Ex-President Hoover proposes transferring Arabs of 
Palestine to Iraq so that Palestine may absorb the Jews", "Weird proposal for solving 
Palestine problem". 

The telegram also said that on the following day the leftist newspaper "Al Rai Al Am" 
in its main Editorial under the heading "Hoover's hateful statement" pointed out that "such 
statements show that both unofficial and official opinions America are wholly on side of 
Zionist; that there is a competition between American imperialists and capitalists to achieve 
Zionist aims; and that it is questionable that there remains any American conscience to be 
moved in defense of wronged Arabs." 

In addition, the nationalist newspaper "Al Nida" asserted that the Arabs would never 
agree to the creation of a Zionist state which would threaten the political and economic 
interests of the Arabs. {^) 

Further comments on the reactions of the Iraqi press came from a despatch of the Jewish 
Telegraphic Agency from Cairo on 23 November. This read: "A boycott of American goods was 
urged today by Bagdad papers in reply to a suggestion by former President Herbert Hoover 
that the United States grant a large loan to Iraq to finance the resettlement there of Arabs 
from Palestine, according to a Reuters dispatch. Under such headings as 'Devilish American 
Plan' and 'New Zionist Scheme,' the papers sharply attack Hoover's suggestion for large- 
scale irrigation of arid land in Iraq and the transfer of Palestinian Arabs as a means of solving 
the Palestine problem." (^) 

All this is in complete contrast to the response of King Feisal of Iraq in 1927, when a 
Moslem journalist asked him why Iraq did not make use of its large territorial area to raise 
cotton. Feisal replied that the poor labour force available inhibited capital investments. 
Bedouin were liable to disappear overnight, even in times of most pressing seasonal work, 
should they hear a rumour of rain in the desert several hundred miles away. "I would 
welcome with great pleasure", said Feisal, "an immigration of Mohammedan Arab fellahin 
from Syria and Palestine." (') 

Correspondence in "The New York Times" 

On 25 November 1945, Hoover wrote to Elisha Friedman pointing out the merits of his 
plan. In his letter, he complained that "the New York Times ... have not deigned to notice it 
[his plan]", and he suggested that Friedman write them a "strong letter". He offered to meet 
with Friedman, (*) and from Hoover's "Calendar" we can see that a meeting between them 
took place three days later. (^) 

Likewise, Bernice Miller - a member of Hoover's secretarial staff - in a letter, 
commented that "the New York Times has completely ignored, in every sense of the word, the 
Chief's [Hoover] proposal - not even having mentioned it, although they could have had it 
through the United Press." ('') 

Friedman accordingly wrote a letter to "The New York Times", which as we shall see 
evoked a chain of letters, so that ironically "The New York Times" which "deigned not to 
notice Hoover's plan" ended up by giving it more publicity than probably any other 

Friedman's first letter appeared on 16 December under the heading "Hoover Plan 
Approved, An Irrigated Iraq Regarded as Best Home for Arabs" and began, "Herbert Hoover 
made a constructive practical and humanitarian proposal to solve the problem of Palestine. It 
becomeseven more significant upon the appointment of the Anglo-American Committee of 

1 / Telegram, Moose to Secretary of State Washington, 25 November 1945, (NA 867N.01/11-2545). 

/ Ben-Horin to Hoover, 27 November 1945, (HH PPS - lewish- Zionist, Clippings). 
^ / Ben-Horin, The Middle East, op. cit., p.224. 

/ Hoover to Friedman, 25 November 1945, (HH PPS - lewish- Zionist, Clippings). 

/ Calendar, 28 November 1945, op. cit. 

/ MUler to Strauss, 26 November 1945, (HH PPS - Jewish- Zionist, Clippings). 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Immigration of Jews into Palestine." 

[A few months earlier, the British Labour Party had come into power in a landslide 
victory at the General Election. They very soon reversed their pre-election platform and 
resolutions on Palestine, and Jewish immigration into Palestine continued to be very restricted. 
As a result, the Jewish Resistance Movement (the Hagana, the Irgun and the Stern Group 
(Lehi)), took coordinated action in Palestine against the British Mandatory rule. In order to 
withstand American pressure to solve the Jewish refugee question, the British Foreign 
Secretary, Ernest Bevin, decided to set up an Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry whose 
recommendations Bevin solemnly promised to follow.] Friedman wrote that Hoover's proposal 
deserved "the earnest study of the new Anglo-American Commission." (i) 

James G. McDonald had just been appointed to sit on this Committee and three weeks 
after publication of his transfer proposal Hoover wrote to him, "I have made this proposal 
from time to time over a long period, and it does seem to me worthy of consideration." He felt 
that if the Heads of the Arab States could be made to realise that this proposal was a real 
way out, then the Jews could have no objection. {^) In reply to Hoover's letter, McDonald wrote 
that he had read Hoover's statement about Iraq and was sure that the Anglo-American 
Committee would want to study the proposal carefully. He planned to write to Hoover 
concerning this proposal in the near future. (^) A month later, possibly at the request of 
Hoover, Friedman contacted McDonald on this question. McDonald however pointed out that 
"the terms of reference of the Committee and the heavy schedule of appearances would make 
it unlikely that the Committee could consider the question of population transfer." (^) [It did 
in fact briefly come up twice during the hearings - in the evidence of Reinhold Niebuhr and 
Emanuel Neumann.] 

In a similar vein, in a memorandum of 3 December 1945, Frankenstein suggested to a Sub- 
Committee of the Political Committee of the British Zionist Federation, that they should 
"urge the Jewish Agency to set up at once, a committee of experts of standing, both Jews and 
non-Jews possibly in consultation with Mr. Hoover and other important personalities, for 
elaborating a concrete plan (for transfer)." (') 

After summarising the details and advantages of Hoover's plan, Friedman wrote that 
"the previous proposals to irrigate Iraq were intended to develop it economically and to 
benefit its masses. But no one before Mr. Hoover made this proposal as a means of solving the 
Palestine question." Friedman further claimed that, "If the Arab countries are regarded as a 
unit, as the Pan-Arab League assumes, the movement of the Arabs from Palestine to Iraq 
would have an analogue in American history." Friedman pointed out how hundreds of 
thousands of farmers from the New England States abandoned their poor soil and went west to 
Ohio, Iowa and Oregon where they acquired fertile lands. "Mr. Hoover's proposal shows a 
large conception in social engineering." (^) 

A similar idea had been put forward in an Editorial written in 1943 in the journal "Great 
Britain and the East". The writer referred to a statement made by King Ibn Saud at some 
earlier date to an American correspondent and later published in a Saudi Arabian newspaper. 
The King had said that he hoped that after the war, the Arabs would become a single State 
with the help of the Allies. 

The "Great Britain and the East" Editorial pointed out that a major grievance among 
the Arabs had been that after the First World War, the Allies had arbitrarily divided the 
Middle East into separate states, whereas left to themselves, the Arabs would have formed 
one people, one State. There was no longer any outside influence preventing a union of all the 
Arab States. "As soon as that union is achieved", said the Editorial writer, "the effect will be 
that an Arab moving from Syria to Saudi Arabia, or from Palestine to Iraq, will no longer be 

/ Friedman, New York Times, op. cit. 

2 / Hoover to McDonald, 11 December 1945, (HH PPI - McDonald lames G). 

3 / McDonald to Hoover, 12 December 1945, (HH PPI - McDonald lames G). 

/ Friedman to Hoover, 15 January 1946, (HH PPS - Jewish- Zionist, Clippings). 
/ Frankenstein, Observations to draft report, op. cit., p.5. 
/ Friedman, New York Times, op. cit. 

— 161 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

migrating from one country to another; he will merely be changing his position from one part 
of the same country to another part." The Editorial writer pointed out that Saudi Arabia was 
underpopulated and that "in Palestine he (Ibn Saud) could find as many ready-made Arab 
settlers as he had suitable accommodation for." Those Arabs who did not wish to go to Saudi 
Arabia "could find a warm welcome elsewhere in the peninsula." (i) 

Eight days after the appearance of Friedman's letter in "The New York Times", a reply 
by Khalil Totah, Executive Director of the Institute of Arab-American Affairs was published 
under the headings "Hoover Iraq Plan Opposed", "Suggested Transfer of Arabs to that 
Country is Disapproved". 

As was to be expected, Totah was very critical of Hoover and Friedman. "In his letter, 
Mr. Friedman never alluded to the crux of the matter - whether the Palestine Arabs wish to 
be transferred to Iraq or not. Is it not high time for those who volunteer to solve the Palestine 
question to consider the wishes of two-thirds of its inhabitants? Palestine is home to the 
Arabs. It has been home to them for only thirteen centuries. Millions of their babies were born 
on Palestine's holy soil and millions of their dead lie buried there." 

Totah continued on the theme of religion and the holy places of Christians and Moslems 
in Palestine. "It is not a question of financing and of engineering; it is a human, moral and 
religious matter which cannot be viewed from mere technical considerations. Matters 
affecting religion and traditions in the Middle East are exceedingly explosive and must be 
handled with care." [It is true that Moslem leaders had utilised religion and the holy places 
to unite the masses against Zionism. In the late 1920s, the Mufti had called for a holy war 
and had conducted an unceasing campaign alleging an imminent Jewish threat to Moslem holy 
places. In the summer of 1929, Moslems attending Friday prayers on the Temple Mount heard 
sermons concerning the Zionist enemy who supposedly intended to burn the Al-Aksa Mosque 
and rebuild the Temple in its place. In the days that followed, Jews were massacred in Motza, 
Safed and especially Hebron.] 

In answer to Friedman's contention that the Arab countries should be regarded as a unit, 
Totah replied, "This is no excuse for packing a million Arabs from Palestine to Iraq in order to 
make room for further Zionist immigration." In concluding his letter, he reiterated that the 
problem "is one of ethics and justice and not one of finance and engineering." (^) 

Some days later, Friedman replied to Totah's letter stating, "Mr. Totah seems to have 
misunderstood the Hoover proposal. There will be no need to 'pack a million Arabs from 
Palestine to Iraq'. They would go willingly, if for every acre of stony semi-arid land in 
Palestine they would receive two or three acres of fertile, irrigated soil in Iraq. Iraq has about 
fourteen times the area and only about twice the population of western Palestine." 

In answer to Totah's contentions regarding religion and the holy places, Friedman 
pointed out that the "holy places in Palestine are only holy because the Jews lived there" but 
"the Jews would gladly yield the tombs of their ancestors... for the right to live and toil on 
the land." 

In defence of Hoover, Friedman wrote, "Mr. Hoover's suggestion is opposed by Mr. Totah, 
because the transfer of population is 'not a question of financing and engineering; it is a human, 
moral and religious matter'. Why set off engineering against humanitarianism? Was there 
ever a finer synthesis of the great engineer and the great humanitarian than Herbert 
Hoover?" He then pointed out that the Hoover Dam, a monumental work of engineering 
initiated by Hoover was a contribution to the economic and social welfare of the United 
States. C) 

One could note that immediately before the publication of both his letters in "The New 
York Times," Friedman had meetings with Hoover, for the first letter, one day before 
publication (15 December) (*) and for the second one, two days before (4 January). (^) It is quite 

/ Editorial, "King Ibn Saud on Palestine", Great Britain and the East, (London), vol.lx, no.l675, 3 July 1943, pp. 11-2. 
2 / Khaia Totah, Letters to the Editor, The New York Times, 24 December 1945, p.l4. 
/ Elisha Friedman, Letters to the Editor, The New York Times, 6 January 1946, p.8E. 
/ Calendar, Search Results - Elisha Friedman, (HH Presidential Papers - Calendar [via internet]). 
/ Calendar, 4 January 1946, (HH Presidential Papers - Calendar [via internet]). 

— 162 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

possible that there was a connection and Friedman wanted to show Hoover the letters before 
they were published. The second meeting also took place on the same day as Meir Grossman's 
meeting with Hoover to discuss the transfer of Arabs, although, as we have already seen, 
Friedman was not present, but he was briefed on what transpired. This, of course, could also 
have been the reason for their meeting that day. 

A week after the publication of Friedman's second letter, a letter written by Samir 
Shamma of the Arab Office in Washington D.C. was published. It began with the claim that 
the Arabs had been "uninterruptedly living in that country at least for the last thirteen 
centuries. A great number of the peasants who form 70 per cent of the Arab population of 
Palestine are descendants of those who worked the land centuries before the Jewish migration 
from Egypt in Biblical times." 

Shamma said that to compel these Arabs, even with compensation, to leave their land 
to make room for Jews from Europe would be treatment that "used to be inflicted on a conquered 
enemy in old times, but it would be hard to justify these days on any legal or moral grounds." 
(1) Shamma seemed to be unaware of the Greco-Turkish population exchange, which had been 
proposed by the Nobel Peace prize-winner Dr. Nansen, sanctioned by the League of Nations 
and carried out under the guidance of a mixed commission, not "in old times", but only just over 
twenty years earlier. In justification of such an Arab transfer, Friedman had quoted a 
statement, made in 1940, by Alfred Duff Cooper, former First Lord of the British Admiralty in 
Washington, "In 1914 there was hardly any territory which the Arabs could call their own. 
Since 1914 they have acquired vast tracts of territory where they are independent; the whole 
of Arabia; Trans-Jordan, which was taken away from the original conception of Palestine; 
Syria, where again they exercise semi-independent rights. No nation in the world has so 
little ground for complaining as the Arab race. They have vast spaces in which to expand. 
They have been among the greatest beneficiaries of the World War, and now they are subject 
to no particular evils." (^) 

The next point made by Shamma was that the Hoover plan was "obviously 
incompatible with the terms of the Mandate." He obviously had in mind the section which 
stated that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of the 
existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine. In fact a similar question had been asked by a 
member of the Permanent Mandates Commission after the publication of the Peel Report. To 
this, the British Colonial Secretary, Ormsby-Gore, had answered in terms of "natural 
rights", but he had in no way suggested that the transfer of the Arab population contravened 
the terms of the Mandate. 

In concluding his letter, Shamma wrote, "Mr. Friedman knows well that, according to 
the findings of the Commissions of Investigation, it was the Arabs' fear this would happen 
that was one of the principal causes of the serious disturbances in 1929 and 1936 - 1939." C) 
[These "serious disturbances" of 1929 and 1936-39 consisted of pogroms, massacres and acts of 
terror by Arabs against unarmed Jewish men, women and children in all parts of Palestine.] 
Here Shamma was referring to the Report of the British appointed Shaw Commission of 1930 
which claimed that the riots were a natural reaction against Zionism - a report received by 
the Arabs with jubilation but by the Jews with outrage! 

Meetings and Proposals on the Hoover Plan 

At a meeting of the American Zionist Emergency Council held on 14 January 1946, Eliahu 
Ben-Horin was officially confirmed as a permanent member of the staff of the Council. The 
minutes state that at this meeting Ben-Horin "reported on an interview with Mr. Hoover 
which evoked a lengthy and detailed discussion." {'•) 

A report of this interview and the subsequent discussion can be found in an "addendum" 

/ Samir Shamma, Letters to the Editor, The New York Times, 13 lanuary 1946, p.8E. 
/ Friedman, New York Times, 6 January 1946, op. cit. 
/ Shamma, New York Times, op. cit. 

/ American Zionist Emergency Council, Minutes of Meeting of Executive Committee, 14 January 1946, pp.1, 4, (CZA 

— 163 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

to these minutes, although the actual date of this interview is not stated. According to 
Hoover's calendar, the latest meeting between them had been nearly three months earlier, on 
25 October 1945. (^) From the contents of the report of his interview, he is almost certainly 
referring to this meeting on 25 October. 

Ben-Horin had met with Hoover "on behalf of the American Zionist Emergency 
Council." He reported that "Hoover is very interested in the irrigation plan of Iraq and the 
transfer of the Arabs from Palestine." Hoover, however "felt that if the Zionists were not in 
favor of the transfer proposal that was their business." He had asked Ben-Horin "whether 
his statement [published in the newspapers] was received favorably by the Zionists of 
America." Ben-Horin[?] had replied that "several individuals lauded and praised him and 
told him that they were in accord with his proposal - some Jewish, non-Jewish and several 
Zionist quarters. In view of the present Zionist relations it would be very harmful if the 
Zionists were to launch a program of transfer. The Zionist movement cannot and will not 
commit itself officially with the transfer proposal. Furthermore, it is very good for Zionism 
to be in a position to say no to any question regarding transfer." 

In the subsequent discussion at that American Zionist Emergency Council executive 
committee meeting, Ben-Horin "suggested that, with the approval of this body, the 
initiative should be taken to organize an independent group, headed by Mr. Hoover, and from 
the moment this group is organized no Zionist group should appear in the picture." Ben-Horin 
commented that "it would be very harmful for Zionism if it later appeared that we were 
financing Mr. Hoover's group." 

Different views were then expressed in connection with the attitude to be taken by the 
Zionists to Hoover's transfer proposal. None of those opposing Zionist support for the transfer 
of Arabs from Palestine did so on moral grounds - the opposition was entirely for tactical 
reasons. Rose Halprin "felt that the entire question was dynamite, and that we should do 
nothing on this question without first consulting with the Jewish Agency representative." 
Gedalia Bublick "felt it would be dangerous for our cause to suggest the transfer of the Arabs." 
He considered that the public would then say that the Jews cannot live together with the 
Arabs in Palestine. 

Although Abba Hillel Silver stated that "it is quite clear that our movement will not 
be associated with this idea," as we have already seen, he himself was pleased that progress 
was being made with Hoover's transfer plan! 

An additional point was made by Dr. I. B. Berkson and "agreed fully" to by Pinchas 
Cruso. Berkson considered that whilst for the Zionists to suggest the transfer of Arabs "would 
be a calamity for the Zionist movement ... if we should adopt the plan it should be made 
public. It would be a complete disaster to denounce something publicly and privately support 

There were also members of this Committee who came out in favour of the Zionists 
publicly supporting Hoovers' transfer plan. These included David Wertheim and Louis 
Lipsky. Wertheim "did not see any danger ... Here is a plan brought up by non-Zionists which 
will mean that we will have a majority sooner than in any other manner. We should 
facilitate the sponsoring of such a group." Lipsky said that "the projection of this idea would 
be valuable to us." Max Kirshblum was also "favorably inclined" towards this plan but added 
that "it must be done tactfully." (^) 

On the following day, Elisha Friedman wrote a letter to Hoover pointing out that the 
Zionist Organization "officially takes the position" that there is sufficient room in Palestine 
for everybody. "If they advocated population transfer, it would furnish an argument for anti- 

Realising that one had to overcome this stumbling block, Friedman went on to propose a 
scheme to move the plan forward: "If we can get a responsible group of scientists, technical 
men, and distinguished citizens to undertake this proposal quite independently of any existing 

/ Calendar, Search Results - Eliahu Ben-Horin, op. cit. 
^ / Ibid., Addendum, Report of Mr. Ben-Horin's Interview with Mr. Hoover, (CZA F38/482). 

— 164 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

organization, I shall take the liberty of writing you." (i) 

Ben-Horin was therefore especially insistent in excluding Meir Grossman, (the leader of 
a splinter group who had broken away from the Revisionist Party), who was an enthusiastic 
supporter of this plan, from this group. "He will want to be in the foreground of this affair, 
whereas the [American Zionist] Emergency Council is vitally interested in keeping any Jews, 
especially Zionists who may be active in the Hoover Plan, as far in the background as 
possible." The last thing Ben-Horin wanted was for this group to degenerate into a 
"predominantly Jewish group which would agitate for transfer, and possibly do more harm 
than good." (2) 

A week later, a meeting took place between Hoover and Friedman and Ben-Horin, (^) 
and a confidential comprehensive report of this meeting was made by Ben-Horin in a letter to 
Abba Hillel Silver on the following day. Two weeks prior to this meeting, Ben-Horin had 
suggested to Hoover that his plan be shaped along the lines of exchange of populations, 
rather than transfer, in which seven hundred thousand Jews living in Arab countries would be 
transferred to Palestine in exchange for the Arabs of Palestine who would move to Iraq. (^) At 
this meeting. Hoover took up Ben-Horin's suggestion saying that it was a "great improvement 
on his (Hoover's) original idea." (') Silver, however, disagreed with the removal of Jews 
from Arab lands, since the Jewish public was not yet prepared for it and many Jews from North 
Africa, especially Egypt would "raise furious objection". He went on to concede that this idea 
might come about as a by-product of Hoover's plan but that there was no point in being 
involved at that stage in a "bitter controversy with our own people." (^) 

A crucial point in the implementation of Hoover's plan was finding the necessary 
finance. At the meeting (') between Hoover, Ben-Horin and Friedman, Ben-Horin told Hoover 
in "very careful language" that he could reliably count on a certain source providing the "first 
leg money for the promotion of his plan." Friedman pressed Ben-Horin to state definitely that 
the first twenty-five thousand dollars could be placed at Hoover's disposal, but Ben-Horin 
refused to give a definite commitment. Ben-Horin suggested that an independent group be set 
up, with Hoover at its head, "in order to produce an authoritative report of the Plan." 

Hoover agreed to undertake to try and interest Bernard Baruch. Baruch was a self-made 
millionaire who had sat on American Government Committees and a few years earlier had 
been made adviser to the War Mobilisation Director. 

Hoover also suggested the names of people outstanding in the field of engineering, 
irrigation and agriculture, and a public relations man, whose services he could enlist, and he 
undertook to talk to these people himself in order to ascertain whether or not they were 
interested. (^) 

On the following day. Hoover had a meeting with Bernard Baruch and also with 
Baruch's wife, (') although what was discussed has not been traced. 

On 25 January, Friedman wrote to a certain Julius Fohs who replied with details about 
assembling technical data and a technical committee and raising the first twenty-five 
thousand dollars for the project. (^°) 

A further meeting took place on the afternoon of 4 February between Hoover, Ben-Horin 
and Friedman (^^ ) but we do not have a report on its deliberations. 

That same evening a meeting took place at the house of William Fondiller, Vice- 
President of the Bell Research Laboratories, at which, according to Friedman "considerable 

/ Friedman to Hoover, 15 January 1946, op. cit. 

/ Medoff, Zionism and the Arabs, op cit., p. 145. 

/ Calendar, 22 January 1946, (HH Presidential Papers - Calendar). 

/ Ben-Horin to Silver, 23 January 1946, op. cit. 
^ / Ibid., p.l. 

/ Silver to Ben-Horin, 25 January 1946, op. cit. 

/ Calendar, 22 January 1946, op. cit. 

/ Ben-Horin to Silver, 23 January 1946, op. cit., pp. 1-2. 

/ Calendar, 23 January 1946, (HH Presidential Papers - Calendar [via internet]). 
^° I Fohs to Friedman, 30 January 1946, (CZA A300/24). 

" / Ben-Horin to Fohs, 4 February 1946, (CZA A300/24). 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

progress" was made. Friedman informed Hoover that Fondiller was "greatly interested" and 
planned to call in the very near future a meeting of a group of engineers and "after this group 
meets and perfects the details of organization, we hope you will permit us to call on you to 
carry your project forward." It was also hoped that they might get funds from the Refugee 
Economic Corporation, (i) 

A month later, a meeting of seven prominent engineers took place at the New York 
University Faculty Club in order to discuss the Hoover Plan. 

. At this meeting, Ben-Horin was called upon "to outline briefly the genesis of the 
project". The engineers then had a heated discussion on the engineering aspects of the problem 
and they soon arrived at the conclusion that the data before them was insufficient. 

Professor Boris Bakhmeteff of Columbia University, and former Russian ambassador to 
the U.S.A. "declared that the solution of the matter of making Palestine a Jewish Home was 
a serious international one, and he was strongly in favor of Mr. Hoover's proposal" and that it 
was "probably the best solution for the Jewish-Palestinian problem". 

In answer to a question regarding the attitude of the Arab leaders, Ben-Horin indicated 
"that under present conditions their attitude would not be co-operative." 

Another member of the committee, Eugene Halmos, a non-Jewish irrigation engineer said 
that his interest in the project "was purely from an engineering standpoint, and that his firm 
would be prepared to undertake these studies on a commercial basis as might be required" and 
that "no engineer of repute would lend his name to such a project unless all the necessary 
research and planning is done to prove that the quantity of water required is available, etc., 

After a long discussion, the engineers all agreed that the first thing to be done was to 
assemble all the data available on the subject and prepare a summary. They also decided to 
have an early meeting with Hoover in order that they might "learn what information he 
had gathered together in his own investigation." (^) 

Two days later, Fondiller wrote to Hoover enclosing minutes of this meeting and the 
decision to have an early meeting with him "to fortify itself with such data as you have, 
bearing on the feasibility of the engineering phases of the project and its estimated cost." C) 
However such a meeting never took place, since Hoover became interested in other causes and 
his interest in his Iraq plan faded. (^) 

After this date, there seems to be no more information on this proposal for the years 1946 
and 1947 in either the Hoover Library or the Central Zionist Archives. However, from about 
August 1948, which was soon after the establishment of the State of Israel, considerable 
efforts were made by both Ben-Horin and Friedman to revive the Hoover Plan and use it as a 
means of resettling the Arab refugees in Iraq and thus prevent their returning to Israel. Hoover 
gave these efforts his blessing, but he himself (possibly due to his advancing age) did little to 
further them. (^) 

In August 1954, Hoover reached the age of 80 and Ben-Horin wrote to him a 
congratulatory letter, including a reference to the Hoover transfer plan. In a letter of thanks. 
Hoover added a post-script in his own handwriting, "We were on the only sane track!" ('') We 
can thus see that even after nearly nine years' reflection. Hoover still believed his plan was 

When Hoover died ten years later, in a tribute issued by the Zionist Organization of 
America, its President, Dr. Max Nussbaum, devoted almost his entire tribute to giving a 
detailed account of Hoover's transfer plan. (') 

/ Friedman to Hoover, 5 February 1946, (HH PPS - Jewish- Zionist, Clippings). 
2 / Minutes of Meeting at N.Y. Faculty Club, 4 March 1946, (HH PPS - Jewish-Zionist, Clippings) ; Ben-Horin to Silver, 
5 March 1946, (CZA A300/24). 

^ / FondUler to Hoover, 6 March 1946, (HH PPS - Jewish- Zionist, Clippings). 
* / Medoff, op. cit., p.468 

^ / Details may be found in: CZA A300/24 ;ISA FM 2402/15, 2402/16, 3037/11, 364/3 ; HH PPl - Friedman, Elisha ; 
Medoff, op. cit. 

/ Ben-Horin, A Brick for the Bridge, pp. 185-86, op. cit. 

/ Press Release, "President Hoover's Support for a Jewish Homeland ...", 22 October 1964, (Zionist Archives, New 

— 166 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 


Dr. Eduard Benes was President of Czechoslovakia from 1935—38. In 1938 the Germans 
occupied the country, and in 1940 he organised a government-in-exile in London. After 
Czechoslovakia was liberated in 1945, he returned to the presidency. Soon after the 
termination of the Second World War, the Sudeten Germans living in Czechoslovakia were 
transferred to Germany. 

In August 1946, Benes had a meting with Eliahu Ben-Horin and the latter reported on 
this meeting in his unpublished autobiography. According to Ben-Horin, "President Benes 
said that there was something he could not understand about Zionist policies. He felt that 
the transfer of the Palestinian Arabs to Iraq or some other underpopulated Arab country could 
have provided the soundest solution for the Palestine problem. 'Indeed,' Dr. Benes went on, 'I 
spoke about it several times to Dr. Weizmann ... in London, but he had not been receptive at 
all to this idea. We are now transferring the Sudeten Germans from Czechoslovakia to 
Germany, and their number is twice the number of the Arabs you have in Palestine.'" We 
should add that this transfer of Sudeten Germans was a compulsory transfer approved by the 
Great Powers. 

Ben-Horin answered Benes that he did "not have to sell me on the transfer idea, because 
I have advocated this solution for several years." He then pointed out that whereas 
President Hoover "also favors the transfer idea", Weizmann and other Zionist leaders "may 
not be far-sighted enough in this respect". He also felt that one could not bring a parallel 
with the Sudeten Germans, since whereas Benes and his government were masters of 
Czechoslovakia, this was not the case with the Jews of Palestine. (^) 

MOJLI AMIN, an Arab 

In 1939, Mojli Amin, a member of the Arab Defense Committee for Palestine put forward 
a proposal for the transfer of Arabs from Palestine. This proposal was published in Damascus 
and distributed amongst the Arab leaders. (^) 

Amin began by blaming the suffering of the Arabs in Palestine, the "lovers of peace", on 
the Jews to whom the British had promised "an Arab land on the basis of prehistoric fables 
which state that Palestine is the designated land for Israel and Judea." He added that there 
was no democratic country who would protest to Britain on the evil they were doing to the 

He then went on to put forward a solution which would satisfy the hopes of the Jews and 
put an end to the killing of the Arabs. 

Amin's proposal was that all of Palestine be given to the Jews - its dwelling places, its 
fields, its mosques, its graveyards, etc. "Furthermore, I hereby propose that all the Arabs of 
Palestine will leave and be divided up amongst the neighbouring Arab countries. In exchange 
for this, all the Jews living in Arab countries will leave and come to Palestine." He added 
that Palestine would be isolated from the Arab countries by means of "dams", so that the Jews 
would not see the Arabs and vice-versa. "We the Arabs are prepared to accept upon ourselves 
this great sacrifice for the sake of your welfare and the gathering in of your exiles and because 
of the generations of suffering which you underwent in Spain, Russia and other places." 

. Amin proposed that this exchange of population should be carried out in the same way 
as the Greco-Turkish population exchange, and that special committees should be established 
to deal with the liquidation of Jewish and Arab property. He realised that at first there 
would be great difficulties, but he hoped they would be finally solved. 

/ Ben-Horin, A Brick for the Bridge, p. 162, op. cit. 
/ Joan Peters, From Time Immemorial, (New York, 1984), p.25. 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Amin feared that "the Arabs will not agree to this extortionate solution." However, he 
undertook the task of persuading them to accept this plan. The Jews would just need to hint on 
their agreement and then he would open publicity offices in all the Arab countries in order to 
obtain Arab agreement to the plan and to its implementation. With regards to Britain, Amin 
held that there was no need for its involvement. {^) 


William Christian Bullitt began his career in government service during the first world 
war. He was the first U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union and was afterwards the 
ambassador to France where he was popularly known as the "Champagne Ambassador". Ben- 
Gurion would refer to Bullitt by the nickname "Kedouri". 

In 1942, Bullitt, prior to a visit to Palestine, told Ben— Gurion of his plans for Arab 
transfer. Ben-Gurion reported on this conversation in a letter which he wrote to Shertok, in 
February of that year. He wrote that Bullitt had told him that "what we had to do in 
Palestine is simple: to expel all the Arabs from both banks of the Jordan and give the Jewish 
people a complete and empty country." Ben-Gurion reported that when he tried to explain to 
him that it was not so simple and in any case unnecessary, his (Ben— Gurion's) "Zionism was 
reduced in his eyes." (^) We in fact find on several occasions in the 1940s that Ben— Gurion 
would make a point of publicly decrying as unnecessary the transfer of Arabs, when speaking 
to non-Jews! 

Two years later, in April 1944, the twentieth Anniversary dinner of the American- 
British Convention on Palestine took place. Amongst the many addresses was one by William 
Bullitt and it was built around the views of Aaron Aaronsohn. 

In his lecture at this anniversary dinner, Bullitt quoted the plan of Aaronsohn's for Arab 
transfer, adding that under the circumstances of 1944, "I wonder if it may not be wise to 
consider now, seriously, the proposals which Aaron Aaronsohn made in 1919... [they] may 
come into the realm of practical politics. I do not say that they will but that they may." (^) 

Towards the end of his address, under the heading of "Population Exchange" Bullitt 
asked "Why should we despair of such a solution?" He felt that "constructive statesmanship" 
was necessary and pointed out that twenty years earlier two great statesman had settled the 
"ancient blood-feud" between Greece and Turkey by means of a population transfer. Bullitt 
said that "after Aaron Aaronsohn's death ... I felt often that I was in a minority of one. I may 
still be. But I continue to have faith in his proposals." (*) 


In 1936 the Arab rebellion in Palestine began and the High Commissioner Wauchope 
utilised this opportunity to "repatriate" Arabs to their countries of origin. 

In a handwritten note written by Wauchope on 2 May 1936, regarding the Hauranis, he 
wrote, "They are a turbulent lot. The sooner they go the better on their own request. Next week 
they may not want to go ... As long as they go voluntarily I feel no Arab comments." (^) 

A memorandum of the same date speaks of a number of Syrians who "had applied 
urgently and pleadingly to be sent back to their homes for the reasons that there was no work 
for them to do at Jaffa." (^) Wauchope realised that as soon as Jaffa port would be reopened 

^ / Proposal, 21 May 1939, (CZA S25/5630). 

2 / Ben-Gurion to Shertok, 8 February 1942, p.6, (BGA). 

/ William Bullitt, "A Constructive Solution", The American-British Convention on Palestine, (New York, luly 1944), 

* / Ibid., pp. 29-30. 

^ / Wauchope to Hall, 2 May 1936, (ISA M223/I/578/36). 
^ I Memorandum, 2 May 1936, (ISA M223/I/578/36). 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

they would rescind their request. He therefore accordingly wrote a note, "Every 
encouragement should be given to countrymen to return to their own country without 
compulsion. When the port is re-opened fully probably none will want to go without 
compulsion." He considered that written statements that they were leaving voluntarily to be 
"absolutely needless". (^) Hathorn Hall, the Chief Secretary immediately passed on 
Wauchope's instructions to the Distrist Commissioner of the Southern District adding that a 
special train was being arranged to transfer these Arabs to Syria. (^) 

A few weeks later, Wauchope telegrammed the Commissioner of Somaliland that he 
was "repatriating some twenty Somalis by first available steamer. It is urgently necessary in 
present circumstances that they should leave Palestine on general grounds and in their own 
interests." (') Likewise for the same reasons, ten Sudanese C) and ten Nigerians (^) were 
repatriated. The meaning of "general grounds and in their own interests" can be found in 
several letters by Wauchope to the Acting Governor General of Sudan. In these letters he 
wrote that their "presence in Palestine in present circumstances is considered undesirable." (^) 

There are also written statements by Sudanese desiring to be repatriated. These 
statements are signed with the "left hand thumbprint of applicant". C) They could obviously 
not read and one might therefore ask if they in fact knew what they were "thumbprinting"?! 


Leopold Amery was a British statesman who as Assistant Secretary to the War Cabinet 
drafted one of the formulas which eventually became the Balfour Declaration. For five years 
from 1924, he was British Colonial Secretary and between 1940-5 he was the Secretary of 
State for India. It was in this last office that he tried in early 1941, to assist Montague Bell to 
bring to fruition the plan for the transfer of Arabs from Palestine to Iraq. 

On 4 October 1941, Amery wrote a letter to the British Prime Minister, Winston 
Churchill, in which he put forward his views on solving the Palestine question, which 
included transferring the Arabs. He considered that "the ideal policy might well be to give 
the Jews the whole of Palestine and find the money for the transference of the existing 
Palestinian population to Transjordan and Syria and its resettlement there." Amery did not 
specifically state whether he intended such a transfer of Arabs to be voluntary or compulsory, 
but from a continuation of his letter it would seem that the latter was intended. He wrote of 
the Greco-Turkish population exchange which was compulsory, and of the population 
exchange of a compulsory nature which would very probably be required after the termination 
of the Second World War. However, making a pragmatic assessment of the situation, he 
admitted that the British would not be able themselves to "undertake so extreme a policy in 
view of our many Moslem interests." He added that this plan could possibly be implemented 
if the Mandate were to be handed over to Roosevelt with the suggestion that he "get on with 
it!" Possibly Amery had heard that nearly three years earlier, Roosevelt had first put 
forward a plan to transfer Arabs from Palestine to Iraq. 

Amery suggested that if this plan could not be implemented, then it would be a feasible 
policy to give the Jews a part of Palestine such as had been recommended by the Peel 
Commission. He felt this would be easier if the Jewish State were to be part of a wider 
Federation and believed that this was the right solution which might well appeal to both 
Jews and Arabs were it to be boldly presented to them. He concluded that failing such 
acceptance he could see "no alternative except the partition of Palestine with a compulsory 

1 / Note, Wauchope, 2 May 1936, (ISA M223/I/578/36). 

2 / Hall to District Commissioner Southern District, 2 May 1936, (ISA M223/I/578/36). 

3 / Wauchope to Commissioner of Somaliland, 26 May 1936, (ISA M223/I/578/36). 
* / Wauchope to Governor General of Sudan, 5 June 1936, (ISA M223/I/578/36). 

^ / Wauchope to Governor of Nigeria, 2 July 1936, (ISA M223/I/578/36). 

^ / Wauchope to Acting Governor General of Sudan, 18 July 1936, 5 September 1936, 24 October 1936, (ISA 


^ / e.g. Mohammed Issa to Government of Palestine, 19 June 1936, (ISA M223/I/578/36). 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

re-settlement." (i) 

Churchill did not react to the ideas of Amery. (^) In fact the debate on the political 
future of Palestine disappeared from the agenda of the British Cabinet for over a year and a 


Sir Norman Angell, the Nobel Peace Prizewinner, was born in 1874. He was an English 
author and publicist and acted as general manager of the "Paris Daily Mail" for a decade. 
Between 1929-31 he was a Labour Member of Parliament and in 1931 was knighted. 

In November 1941, Angell advocated moving the Arabs of Palestine into other Arab 
territory. "A plan must be initiated to help in the development of other Arab territories so 
that Arabs in Palestine might immigrate to purely Arab lands where their establishment 
would be encouraged." (^) 

In mid-1943, in an article in the "Jewish Frontier", Angell set out "The Conditions for 
Zionist Success". By this he meant "that Palestine should become a self-governing Jewish 
state, a true homeland of the Jews, master of its own immigration policy, open to development, 
without the restrictions and complications imposed by the presence of an Arab population 
nearly twice as great as the Jewish population." 

Angell said that the obstacle to the realisation of Zionist aims was "the presence of a 
major Arab population in Palestine itself" which could be a major defense threat to a Jewish 
State. He added that there were other obstacles such as bureaucratic incompetence and a 
tendency to solve problems by postponing them or even evading them, "but the major concrete 
difficulty is the Arab position." 

He felt that if the problem of defence for a Jewish Palestine could be summounted, it 
would be possible to tackle the Arab problem in Palestine along more constructive lines than 
those persued in the past. Angell's solution to this problem was the transfer of the Arabs from 
Palestine, but he began by discounting "any enforced removal of the Arab population" 
describing it as "wrong and suicidal". His plan was that the vast undeveloped areas of the 
Arab world would be developed and offered to the Arabs of Palestine on conditions "so 
attractive that you might secure a voluntary Arab emigration in large numbers on to land 
developed for the specific purpose of inducing them to go there." He considered that side by 
side with Jewish immigration into Palestine, there would be an Arab emigration until the 
population of the country would be predominantly Jewish. He concluded by emphasizing that 
this had to be a purely voluntary migration. (*) 

We can see that Angell's final aims for Palestine are quite clear and given the authority 
to implement them, he might have succeeded in inducing the Arabs to migrate in large 
numbers to the vast areas of the Arab kingdoms. 


Edwyn Bevan, the historian and philosopher, was a university lecturer at King's 
College, London. One of the first, if not the first, proposals made publicly by a non-Jew, to 
transfer Arabs from Palestine to Iraq, was made by him, in the form of a letter written to "The 
Times" of London in September 1936. 

Bevan wrote that one could not look upon Palestine as a country belonging to the Arabs in 

/ Amery to Churchill, 4 October 1941, Reprinted by Natanel Katzberg, The Palestine Problem in British Policy 1940 - 
1945, (lerusalem, 1977), p.l8. 

/ Gavriel Cohen, ChurchUl and Palestine 1939 - 1942, (Jerusalem, 1976), p.47 (Hebrew numerals). 
/ quotei 

/ quoted by Joseph Schechtman, Population Transfers in Asia, (New York, 1949), pp. 117-18. 

/Norman Angell, "The Conditions for Zionist Success", Jewish Frontier, (New York), vol.x, no.6 (101), June 1943, 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

the same way as England belongs to the English or France to the French. "The Palestinian 
Arabs are only part of the great Arab people, and that people has, outside Palestine, wide 
lands for habitation." At that period Jews were being persecuted in various European 
countries, and Bevan pointed out that these Jews had no home to go to other than Palestine. 

He then proposed his solution to this dilemma. After talking about Iraq's history of 
greatness, he urged that it would be pointless to restore Iraq's irrigation system so long as the 
country was underpopulated. Any addition of population would have to be Arab. "Thus we see 
today the teasing anomaly: in Palestine an Arab population of some 820,000, who stand in the 
way of the Jews' need to re-enter their ancient home, and just on the other side of the desert, 
500 miles to the east, a land of immense possibilities crying out for an additional Arab 
population of 4,000,000 or 5,000,000." 

Bevan immediately added that any Arabs emigrating from Palestine to Iraq "would 
have to do so quite voluntarily." However, the Arabs would be provided with great 
inducements to move, the Iraqi Government offering "any Palestinian Arab a holding in Iraq 
larger and richer than his present holding in Palestine." Bevan said that he was sure that 
"many Palestinian Arabs would like to close with the bargain." He considered that it was 
reasonable for the Jewish community to provide most of the money for Iraq to use for this 

If under this scheme the bulk of the Palestinian Arabs were to transfer to Iraq, Bevan 
felt that everyone "would have reason to feel pleased" - Iraq would have added to its 
population as a step towards a return to its former greatness, the individual Arabs would 
have gained better lands, and the Jews would have found "space for their home in the 
promised land." However, concluding on a pessimistic note, he was sceptical whether such a 
plan would ever be put into effect. 

Bevan also added that the Peel Commission which had recently been set up could not be 
expected to suggest this idea since Iraq was an independent State outside the British Empire. 
Any initiative would have to be taken by the Iraqi Government. (^) 


Ely Culbertson, the American writer and lecturer was born in 1891. He was Chairman of 
the Board of the Citizens' Committee for the United Nations Reform, and President of 
"World Federation Inc." He was also author of numerous publications propagating his ideas 
for World Peace, and a plan for a World Federation. Included in the latter was the 
establishment of a Jewish State. 

According to Culbertson's system there would be eleven Regional Federations and around 
each would revolve a number of States which would be held in their orbits by psycho-social 
and economic forces. These eleven Regional Foundations would revolve around the World 
Federation and the whole system would be held together by the constitution of the World 
Federation. One of these Regional Federations would be the Middle Eastern Federation and 
one of the States revolving around it would be the Jewish State. (^) 

Culbertson felt that there were two solutions to the Jewish problem in Palestine and 
that it would be the duty of the World Federation Government to decide which of them to 
adopt. In the first solution, which involved transfer of Arabs, Culbertson suggested that 
Palestine should become a Jewish State in the following way. "A large part of the 
Mohammedan and Christian populations of Palestine shall be transferred to another 
territory in the Middle East, where equivalent or better land and living conditions shall be 
provided, together with a reasonable bonus. This transfer shall be effected only with the 
consent of the groups concerned. The expenses of this transfer shall be borne, half by the 
Jewish State and half by the World Federation." 

Culbertson then commented that despite the Arabs' attachment to Palestine "it is 

/ Edwyn Bevan, Letters to the Editor, The Times, (London), 11 September 1936, p. 10. 
/ Ely Culbertson, Summary of the World Federation Plan, (New York, 1943), p.23. 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

reasonable to assume that a large number of both Arabs and Christians will consent to 
emigrate if sufficient inducement is offered." He envisaged settling hundreds of thousands of 
homeless Jews from Europe in the lands vacated by the Arabs. In this way the Jews would 
become a majority in Palestine and thus form a sovereign Jewish State. 

His alternative solution to be considered in the event of an insufficient number of Arabs 
agreeing to emigrate to permit of the establishment of a Jewish majority in Palestine, was for 
the country to become a ward of the World Federation. This would continue, until as a result of 
intensified Jewish immigration Palestine would acquire a Jewish majority, and, upon a 
plebiscite, its separate sovereignty would be established, (i) 

Following the publication of his World Federation plan, Culbertson published in an 
expanded form in "The New Palestine", the phase of his plan dealing with Palestine. (^) 
This was later published together with other articles in a booklet brought out by the Zionist 
Organization of America. (^) 


John Gunther was an American author and journalist, who was born in Chicago in 1901. 
He wrote a number of informal histories which included "Inside Europe", "Inside Asia", 
"Inside Africa", "Inside U.S.A.", Inside Russia Today". 

In his diary, Ben-Gurion reported that on the evening of 5 December 1937, he met with 
Gunther and his wife in the house of Moshe Shertok. At the time, Gunther was researching for 
his proposed book "Inside Asia" and intended continuing on to Egypt and thence to India, 
China and Japan. (^) Two years later his book was published. 

In a chapter on Palestine, Gunther devoted several pages to the Arab-Jewish conflict 
and then concluded, "Perhaps amelioration will come some day... in the form of an exchange 
of populations. This is not practical politics yet; it could become practical politics any time 
the British believed in it. The Arabs might conceivably go to Transjordan or Iraq, where there 
is plenty of room; Jews from Europe could come then to Palestine. The idea may seem fantastic, 
but it worked when imposed by a strong hand on the Greeks and Turks. Something drastic must 
be done." (') 

In view of the fact that Gunther refers to the exchange of population between Greece and 
Turkey which was compulsory and states that "something drastic must be done" in connection 
with a proposed population exchange involving Palestine, we might infer that Gunther 
intended a compulsory population exchange in Palestine. 


Walter Clay Lowdermilk who was at one time the Chief of the Soil Conservation 
Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, in the years 1938-9 made an extensive 
study of the Near and Middle East. 

In his book "Palestine, Land of Promise", published in 1944, Lowdermilk put forward his 
plans for the development of Palestine. Regarding the Arab population, he asked, "What of 
the million and a third Arabs in Palestine and Trans-Jordan?" He believed that they would 
benefit from this Jewish development since an increase in Jewish immigration would provide 
them with new opportunities for investment and labour and enlarge the market for their 
produce. However, "If individual Arabs found that they disliked living in an industrialised 

' / Ibid., pp.21-22. 

/ Ely Culbertson, "No Solution Without a Plan", The New Palestine, (New York), vol.xxxiii, no.9, 5 March 1943, p. 5. 

/ Ely Culbertson, "No Solution Without a Plan", Palestine - A Jewish Commonwealth in Our Time, (Washington D.C., 
1943), pp.26-29. 

/ Ben-Gurion, Memoirs, vol.4, op. cit., p.462. 
^ / John Gunther, Inside Asia, (New York, 1939), p.589. 

— 172 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

land, they could easily settle in the great alluvial plain of the Tigris and Euphrates Valley 
where there is land enough for vast numbers of immigrants." He pointed out that there was a 
large potential in Iraq and that it had an urgent need for increased population, (i) 

The initiative for Lowdermilk's book came from Emanuel Neumann, who in his own book 
"In the Arena" wrote that he had suggested to Lowdermilk's wife that her husband write "a 
book about Palestine which would cast a new and fresh light on its possibilities." Lowdermilk 
took up this suggestion and his book became a "best-seller" and was well-reviewed in the 
press. (^) 

Amongst the papers which reviewed this book was "Zionews" which was published by 
the New Zionist Organization of America. In the course of this review, the transfer proposal 
was described in great detail, the reviewer adding that "Lowdermilk approaches this 
problem with his usual spiritual courage and broadmindedness." (^) 

Although the staff of the American Zionist Emergency Council handled Lowdermilk's 
manuscript prior to its publication, there is no indication that any of them objected to the 
passage regarding Arab transfer. C) 

A year prior to the publication of Lowdermilk's book, a Christian from Palestine, 
Francis Kettaneh, submitted a memorandum to the British Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden. 
In the course of this memorandum, Kettaneh referred to the fact that Lowdermilk had been 
sent to Asia (including Palestine) to "survey post war reconstruction possibilities in these 
countries." According to Kettaneh, in his subsequent report, Lowdermilk urged that "a canal be 
cut from the Meditteranean to the Jordan Valley," thus virtually making Palestine into an 
island which "could be more easily defended against Arab inroads." Kettaneh said that 
Lowdermilk "therefore advocates the forcible expropriation and expulsion of Arabs from 
Palestine, transforming the country into an independent Jewish State, capable of absorbing 
between four and six million Jews." (^) Kettaneh did not however identify this report of 
Lowdermilk's and in its absence Kettaneh's objectivity remains in doubt. 


Throughout his life, Richard Meinertzhagen was a supporter of Zionism. He served on 
the staff of General Allenby's army which conquered Palestine from the Turks and then was 
for several years the military adviser to the Middle Eastern Department of the Colonial 

In 1919, when he was Chief Political Officer in Palestine and Syria in the post-war 
military administration, he sent a despatch to the British Foreign Office accusing the British 
military administration of hostility to the principles of the Balfour Declaration. In the same 
vein, nearly two decades later, in July 1938, Meinertzhagen wrote in his diary, "What 
colossal humbug the Balfour Declaration now sounds," adding that all constructive effort had 
to come from the Jews, who had to fight a constant uphill battle against British officialdom. 
He went on to suggest a "way out of this ghastly mess" for the British Government, but he 
despaired of success since they were "such a jelly-bellied lot of kittens." 

He felt that the French who "just at the moment" would support the British "in 
anything" should be asked to hand over the Mufti, and then the British and the French 
should together approach the Arabs "and insist on Jewish sovereignty in Palestine". 
Meinertzhagen said, "If any Arabs have doubts about it, let them go to the large Arab 
territories bordering Palestine after full compensation." He believed that two or three 
million pounds would be sufficient to buy out all the Arabs. He obviously felt strongly about 

^ / Walter Clay Lowdermilk, Palestine, Land of Promise, (New York, 1944), p. 178. 

/ Emanuel Neumann, In the Arena, (New York, 1976), p. 176. 
^ / Book Review, Zionews, (New York), vol.v, no.2, July 1944, pp.22-23. 
'^ I Medoff, thesis, p.290. 

/ Memorandum, Francis A. Kettaneh to Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden, AprU 1943, pp.2-3, (PRO FO 371/35034 

— 173 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

his plan since he himself was prepared to help financially. "And how willingly, I would buy 
out an Arab family if I knew the land went for ever to Zionism." He felt that "thousands of 
Englishmen" would do likewise in order to settle the Jewish question and he did not fear any 
repercussions elsewhere provided the situation were to be handled properly. But he was very 
pessimistic about the British Government's implementing any plan to solve the Palestine 
question, (i) 

Again six years later, Meinertzhagen put forward his proposal which might involve 
the transfer of Arabs from Palestine. He felt that the only solution of the problem was "the 
gift of Palestine to Jewry" and this needed to be implemented immediately. "Those Arabs 
who dislike the solution can be compensated and moved elsewhere," wrote Meinertzhagen in 
his diary, adding that it had been claimed that such a transfer would be a "great injustice to 
the Arabs." He himself considered that the "arguments for and against this contention are 
manifold and interminable." He commented that one hears "little about injustice to the Jews" 
and that a settlement of the Jewish Question which would affect World Jewry would cause 
only a slight injustice to a handful of Arabs who already had "a country many hundred time 
greater than Palestine." (^) 


James Parkes, the English theologian and historian was born in 1896. He wrote a number 
of articles on anti-Semitism in which he demonstrated a strong sympathy with the Jewish 
people and an appreciation of Judaism as a religious system. 

In 1945, Parkes looked at the problem of Palestine pragmatically and decided that a bi- 
national state in Palestine would be unworkable. He therefore concluded that there were two 
alternatives. The first was to tell the Jews that a Jewish National Home in Palestine was not 
possible and that they should either come to an arrangement with the Arabs or leave for 
elsewhere. The second was to tell the Arabs that the Jews needed Palestine more than they 
and that it would therefore become a Jewish Commonwealth. Thence to say to the Arabs, "If 
you do not wish to stay in it, you will receive compensation and be settled elsewhere." Parkes 
considered that the proposed frontiers of the past partition plan were unsatisfactory and that 
the Jewish Commonwealth needed to be larger. He felt that "so far as rights are concerned, 
both Jews and Arabs have unchallengable cases" and therefore one would have to give way to 
the other. He concluded that "from the standpoint of need it seems to me clear that the 
decision lies in favour of the Jews" - the Arabs having "lands stretching from the Atlantic to 
Iran." (^) 

Parkes' paper was followed by a comment by Sir John Hope Simpson. [Fifteen years 
earlier, a Commission headed by Simpson had gone to Palestine to study the economic 
conditions there. His report had declared that there was no margin of land in Palestine 
available for agricultural settlement by new immigrants. The statistical basis of this report 
was subsequently challenged by the Jewish Agency Executive in London.] 

Simpson was highly critical of Parkes' conclusions. In the course of his argument, he 
wrote, "That there is any Jewish right whatsoever (to Palestine), save the right conferred by 
the Mandate, is pure assumption, unsupported by fact," and that Jewish rights to Palestine 
"based on an occupation of two thousand years ago, can hardly be seriously considered." (*) 

With regard to Parkes' proposal on resettling the Arabs, Simpson wrote, "It is... 
perfectly clear that action taken to hand over Palestine to the Jews, and to invite the Arabs to 
evacuate their country for that purpose, would be diametrically opposed" to certain articles 

^ / Richard Meinertzhagen, Middle East Diary 1917 - 1956, (London, 1959), pp.171-72. 

2 / Ibid., p.l91. 

^ / James Parkes, "The Jewish World since 1939", International Affairs, (London), vol.21, 1945, pp. 97-98. 

/Sir John Hope Simpson, "The Jewish World since 1939 - A comment on Dr. James Parkes' Paper", International 
Affairs, (London), vol.21, 1945, p.lOl. 

— 174 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

of the League of Nations Covenant and the Mandate. (^) 

In answer to Simpson's last statement, a certain Carl J. Friedrich retorted, "All that 
responsible people say is that those Arabs who do not like a policy of free immigration... 
will, if they do not wish to stay in Palestine, receive compensation and be settled elsewhere. 
There is nothing novel in this suggestion except the idea of compensation." {^) 


Reinhold Niebuhr was a member of the Executive Committee of the Christian Council 
on Palestine. By 1941, he had begun publicly to advocate a Jewish homeland. 

On 14 January 1946, Niebuhr gave evidence in Washington D.C. before the Anglo- 
American Committee of Inquiry on Palestine. He in fact arrived uninvited in order to read a 
statement on behalf of the Christian Council on Palestine, and at the private urging of 
Stephen Wise. After waiting all day he was finally allowed to speak when an invited anti- 
Zionist witness failed to show up. (^) 

In the course of his evidence he said that there was "no perfectly just solution of any 
political problem." In the case of the Arab-Jewish conflict, he stated that "the Arabs have a 
vast hinterland in the Middle East, and the fact that the Jews have nowhere to go, establish 
the relative justice of their claims and of their cause." 

As a solution to this problem, Niebuhr put forward a transfer proposal. "Perhaps ex- 
President Hoover's idea that there should be a large scheme of resettlement in Iraq for the 
Arabs might be a way out." (*) 

After he finished his statement, he was cross-examined by the Committee. One of the 
committee members referred to a study which had been made on population problems in 
Palestine and then said, "The upshot ... is that it is practically impossible to get a Jewish 
majority in Palestine and keep it until you move out some of the Arabs. The Arabs increase 
twice as fast as the Jews." He then asked Niebuhr, "You would be inclined to take Herbert 
Hoover's solution that we move some of the Arabs across the Jordan, would you?" Niebuhr 
answered: "Yes. Not necessarily forcible removal." (^) 

From his answer we can see that Niebuhr was leaving open whether the transfer should 
be "forcible removal" or voluntary transfer. In fact his biographer Richard Fox, shows that 
Niebuhr inclined towards "forcible transfer". He wrote, "As Niebuhr .bluntly put it in his new 
syndicated column distributed by Religious News Service, the Arabs had a 'pathetic pastoral 
economy.' They might not immediately perceive the justice of the quid pro quo - a secure 
Jewish homeland (including forced relocation of some Arab Palestinians) in exchange for 
greater prosperity - but they would in the long run." (^) (emphasis added) 


Following his graduation from the law department of Harvard University, Claude 
Pepper practiced law. In 1936 he was elected as a Democratic senator from Florida, where he 
served until 1951. 

In October 1945, Mousa Al-Alami, a prominemt lawyer from Palestine, and head of the 
Arab Propaganda Bureau, had a meeting with the American Charge d'Affaires at the U.S.A. 
legation in Baghdad. During the course of this meeting, Al-Alami reported on a long 

1 / Ibid,, pp.103-04. 

/ Carl I. Friedrich, "Britisti Policy in Palestine", The Menorah Journal, (New York), vol.xxxiii, no.2, October - 
December 1945, p.249. 
3 / Richard Fox, Reinhold Niebuhr, a Biography, (New York, 1985), p.226. 

/ Stenographic Report, Hearing before the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry, Washington D.C, 14 January 
1946, pp. 141-42, (CZA gimmel 9960 b viii). 
^ / Ibid., p.l47. 
^ / Fox, op. cit., p.226. 

— 175 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

discussion that he had had with Senator Claude Pepper. 

According to Al-Alami, Senator Pepper had told him "that he had worked out a plan to 
settle the Zionist question which he believed would be satisfactory to both Arabs and Jews. 
Senator Pepper's idea was to effect a shift of population, that is, sending all the Jews in Arab 
countries to Palestine and all the Arabs in Palestine to various Arab countries." 

In reply Al-Alami had said "that this suggestion had been offered before and had been 
ruled out as impractical by both sides for several reasons." It is interesting to note that the 
first of the reasons brought by Al-Alami to refute Pepper was that it was the Jews who would 
not want to leave the Arab countries! (^) 


Bertrand Russell was an English philosopher and mathematician. In his later years, 
Russell was actively engaged in the campaign for nuclear disarmament. For his numerous 
writings, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. 

In 1943, Bertrand Russell wrote about his views regarding a future Jewish State. With 
regard to the Arab question, he distinguished between the theoretical solution and the 
practical realities. 

For the theoretical solution, he put forward the idea of transfer. He wrote that "it 
should be possible to offer adequate compensation for any disturbance, and to cause the Arabs 
voluntarily to surrender inconvenient rights in return for perhaps more valuable concessions 

However, in practical terms, he concluded that the problem was much more complex. 
This was not because he felt transfer was unethical or wrong, but because "the question is 
inflamed by the very general rise of Asiatic self-consciousness, and a determination to assert 
the rights of Asia as against the white man." Even in the eyes of the most enlightened Indian 
inhabitants, Russell considered that Zionism appeared as an ally of British imperialism. He 
did not feel that there was "the faintist justification for this view"; however since it was 
widely held, it was politically important. (^) 


Harry St John Philby (father of the spy Kim Philby), was a British soldier and 
archaeologist, who during the First World War served in the Arab Information Office in 
Cairo. For a long period, he acted as representative for various British companies in Saudi 
Arabia and was also an advisor and confidant of King Ibn Saud. 

The Plan and Initial Contacts 

In May 1939, the British Government brought out its White Paper, which among other 
things severely curtailed Jewish immigration into Palestine. Jews and many non-Jews 
criticised and rejected the contents of this White Paper. Philby, however, considered that the 
British could not, or would not go back on the National Home aspect of their Palestine policy 
and that it was therefore essential to devise a formula "for spreading the contingent benefits 
of a suitable settlement of the Palestine issue over every section of the Arab world" and to 
find an intermediary who was willing and competent to secure general acceptance of such a 
formula. He felt that the only candidate for this role was Ibn Saud, the ruler of Saudi Arabia. 

^ / Memorandum of Conversation with Mousa Al-Alami, 6 October 1945, p.l, (NA 867N.01/10-945). 

/ Bertrand Russell, "Zionism and the Peace Settlement", The New Palestine, (New York), vol.xxxiii, no. 15, 11 June 
1943, p.5; Bertrand Russell, "Zionism and the Peace Settlement", Palestine - A Jewish Commonwealth in Our Time, 
op.cit., pp. 19-20; Dina Porat, "Bertrand Russell on the Jewish State: 1943", Zionism, (Tel-Aviv), vol.3. Spring 1981, p. 128. 

— 176 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Philby's plan, which included a considerable transfer of Arabs form Palestine contained 
three stages. "The whole of Palestine should be left to the Jews. All Arabs displaced 
therefrom should be resettled elsewhere at the expense of the Jews, who would place a sum of 
20 million pounds sterling at the disposal of King Ibn Saud for this purpose. All other Asiatic 
Arab countries, with the sole exception of Aden, should be formally recognised as completely 
independent in the proper sense of the term." These arrangements were to be proposed by 
Britain and America to Ibn Saud, as the principal Arab ruler and guaranteed jointly by both 
countries. (^) Throughout the course of Philby's efforts, he attached great importance to the 
part to be played by Britain and America. 

The expression "all Arabs displaced therefrom" which was contained in his plan, was 
spelt out more clearly by Philby in a meeting with various Zionist leaders at the beginning of 
October. On this, Namier wrote, "Philby's idea was that Western Palestine should be handed 
over completely to the Jews, clear of Arab population except for a "Vatican City' in the old 
city of Jerusalem." (^) 

[Lewis Namier was an English historian and Zionist who had served as political 
secretary to the Zionist Executive between the years 1927-31. In 1930, he had been an 
intermediary in obtaining the MacDonald Letter which in effect cancelled the Passfield 
White Paper.] 

From this plan, one might suppose Philby to be an ardent non-Jewish Zionist. In fact, the 
opposite was the case. After setting out the details of his plan, he wrote, "I have always 
held and still hold that the Jews have not a shadow of legal or historical right to go to 
Palestine." He added that he had not failed to realise that both Britain and America had 
"from the beginning been firmly minded to ride roughshod over all considerations of right and 
justice in favour of Zionism." (*) Why, therefore, should such a rabid anti— Zionist put 
forward such a plan. Philby had looked at the situation in a pragmatic way and considered 
that his plan would be in the Arabs' best interests. 

In contrast, however, to this assessment, Nur Masalha in his book entitled "Expulsion of 
the Palestinians" considers that "Namier's assertion that Philby made the initial proposal 
of Arab transfer and suggested the sum to be paid to Ibn Saud must be examined critically." He 
also feels that "the idea of a complete transfer save for a 'Vatican City' in the old city of 
Jerusalem seems less likely to have come from Philby, a convert to Islam, than from Namier." 
(^) We should however bear in mind that reading through Masalha's book, we see that his 
thesis is to show that any proposal for Arab transfer put forward by non-Jews was in fact a 
result of Zionist lobbying! 

Philby worked strenuously on his plan and on 24 September 1939, he had a chance 
meeting with Namier at the Athenaeum Club in London. Philby there explained that since 
the war would "interfere with Moslem pilgrimages to Mecca" thus reducing Ibn Saud's income, 
he would "need more money from outside for armaments." Philby then asked Namier whether 
since five hundred million pounds was to be raised for Jewish settlement, it would not be 
possible to use 20 million pounds of it "to buy Palestine." (^) 

Philby feared that the difficulty would be "to persuade England and France to grant 
complete independence to the Arabs and that France should withdraw from Syria." At that 
time, Syria was under a French Mandate and Philby did not know how to force France to 
withdraw. Namier, however, had a solution. As a result of the war, the Jewish refugee 
question would become more acute and greater pressure could be brought to bear on the Western 
countries to facilitate a solution. The only solution was Palestine, and it could only be given to 

/ Harry St John B. Philby, Arabian Jubilee, (London, 1952), p.212. 

/ Ibid., pp.212-13. 

/ Notes on Meeting between Weizmann, Shertok, Namier and Philby, 6 October 1939, p.l, (WA). 

/ Philby, Arabian JubUee, op. cit., p.219. 

/ Nur Masalha, Expulsion of the Palestinians, (Washington D.C., 1992), p. 156. 

/ Note of Meeting between Namier and Philby, 24 September 1939, p.l, (CZA Z4/14615). 

— 177 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

the Jews on condition that there was a union between Syria and the other Arab countries. {^) 

In his book, Philby writes of a meeting with Weizmann and Namier on 28 September, 
1939. At this meeting Philby discussed the general tenor of his plan with them and their 
reactions were "positive and favourable." (^) No other evidence of such a meeting taking 
place on this date can be found and it is quite possible that Philby confused it with the 
meeting which took place on 24 September. Weizmann was definitely not present on the 24 
September, since at this meeting, Namier had suggested that Philby meet with Weizmann. 
Philby accepted this proposal and asked that Namier arrange a date for such a meeting. (^) 

After his meeting with Namier, Philby met with Arnold Lawrence, brother of T. E. 
Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia") and Arthur Lourie, the Political Secretary of the Jewish 
Agency in London, in order to explain his plan. Lawrence felt that to request the whole 
Western Palestine for the Jews, including the wholly Arab areas was "a bit too much", but 
Philby disagreed with Lawrence on this. (^) 

A meeting between Weizmann, Shertok, Namier and Philby took place on 6 October at 
the Athenaeum Club. Originally it had been planned for the previous day, but had been 
postponed to enable Shertok (who arrived in London on 6 October) to attend. On the way to 
this meeting Namier put Shertok in the picture, and informed him of the contents of his 
meeting with Philby nearly two weeks earlier. (') 

At the meeting of 6 October, Philby's plan was discussed in greater detail. In the first 
stage, Philby envisaged "the handing over to Saudi Arabia of Syria and various small states 
on the Red Sea." He did not, however, define what the future relationship should be if Ibn 
Saud to Transjordan and Iraq, but he suggested that of all the Arab states were to be granted 
full independence, a proper settlement would be reached. (^) 

With regard to the financial side, Philby pointed out that in order to go to Ibn Saud, he 
must have something concrete. Weizmann replied that "if we receive all of Western Palestine 
it will be possible to talk about 10 to 20 million pounds." Philby naturally took the higher 
figure. Weizmann explained that if, while in the United States, he received word that Ibn 
Saud was prepared to consider such an agreement, he would turn to the President with the 
suggestion that the American Government assist in financing the scheme which would help 
solve the refugee problem "by means of the establishment of a Jewish State and the transfer of 
the Arab population." Philby was enthusiastic over this idea. (') However, linking the 
United States with the financing of this scheme was to lead to some embarrassment and 

Namier was less confident than Weizmann of the possibility of obtaining such an 
amount in cash. He therefore emphasised that such sums would have to be paid in goods. If, 
for example, Ibn Saud wanted arms, they could be supplied over a period of time from Jewish 
armament works in Palestine. Shertok suggested that part at least of this twenty million 
pounds should be used "for development in connection with the transfer of the Palestine Arabs 
to other Arab countries." (*) 

After Shertok and Weizmann had left, Philby asked Namier, whether the Zionists 
"would be prepared to give bribes to the Mufti and some people in Ibn Saud's entourage so as to 
prevent a campaign against this proposed settlement." Namier replied that, if necessary, the 
Zionists would supply the money, provided they were sure that the recipients would do what 
they promised. (') 

In his book, Philby concluded that at this meeting, his plan received the "cordial 

^ / Moshe Shertok, Handwritten Diary entry 6 October 1939, p.l7, (CZA S25/198/3) ; Diaries of Sharett, vol.iv, op. cit., 

/ Philby, Arabian JubUee, op. cit., p.213. 

/ Note of Meeting between Namier and Philby, op. cit., p.3. 

/ Shertok, Handwritten Diary entry 6 October 1939, op. cit., p. 18 ; Diaries of Sharett, vol.iv, op. cit., pp. 374-75. 

/ Ibid., p.l7; Ibid., p.374. 

/ Notes on Meeting between Weizmann, Shertok, Namier and Philby, op. cit., p.l. 

/ Shertok, Handwritten Diary entry 6 October 1939, op. cit., p.20 ; Diaries of Sharett, vol.iv, op. cit., p.376. 

/ Notes on Meeting between Weizmann, Shertok, Namier and Philby, op. cit., p.2. 

/ Ibid. 

— 178 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

approval" of both Weizmann and Shertok, who agreed to use all their influence with the 
British and American Governments to persuade them to accept and implement the plan, (i) 

Shertok commented in his diary that the entire plan seemed to him "unrealistic in the 
extreme." He added, however, that it contained one important political point, namely the 
appearance of Philby before Ibn Saud "with the suggestion to deliver all of Western Palestine 
to the Zionists and to remove the Arabs from it." In order to implement this, Shertok felt that 
Philby should be allowed to proceed without having obstacles put in his way. (^) 

In her biography of Philby, Elizabeth Monroe wrote that during the course of the 
London Conference held towards the beginning of 1939, Philby "evolved a fresh "Philby plan' 
for solving Britain's Palestine problem", which he then put to Ben-Gurion and Weizmann at a 
secret lunch party. (') Norman Rose, the biographer of Namier understood this to mean that 
Philby had already put forward his transfer plan in February 1939. C) This explanation is, 
however, open to grave doubt since Philby himself said that Weizmann had had knowledge 
of his transfer plan since September 1939. (') According to Professor Yehoshua Porath, the 
"plan" of February 1939, referred to by Monroe, was for the Arabs to agree to the immigration 
of 50,000 Jews into Palestine in the course of the subsequent five years in exchange for Jewish 
recognition of Ibn Saud's son Feisal as King of Palestine. (^) 

Zionist Efforts 

In a report given by Ben-Gurion to the Jewish Agency Executive in Jerusalem in 
November 1939, Ben-Gurion commented that they had obviously heard about Philby's plan. 
After summarising the details he informed them that Philby had travelled to Saudi Arabia 
with his plan. "Our office in London," continued Ben-Gurion, "is now occupied with the 
preparation of explanatory material with regard to the transfer of population." Ben-Gurion 
then said that he "did not believe in compulsory transfer, but believed that it was also 
possible to transfer part of the Arabs from Palestine by agreement." (') This would seem to be 
a complete volte-face, since a year and-a-half earlier, Ben-Gurion had stated to the same 
Executive, "1 favour compulsory transfer." However, Porath understood Ben-Gurion's 
statement of November 1939 to mean that "he did not believe in the possibility of compelling 
the Arabs of Palestine to leave the country, but he did hold that some of them would agree to 
do this voluntarily." (*) Thus, Ben-Gurion, according to Porath, was assessing the situation 
from a practical point of view and was not giving his personal views on transfer. Support for 
Porath's interpretation of Ben-Gurion's statement comes from an entry made by Ben-Gurion in 
his diary, a few days earlier. Ben-Gurion felt that compulsory transfer was not possible for 
the simple reason that the British Government would not implement it. "1 don't believe in a 
compulsory transfer," wrote Ben-Gurion, "not because it could not take place, but because the 
English will not do it." (') 

Ben-Gurion then pointed out that there was also a group of Englishmen headed by 
Arnold Lawrence, who opposed Philby's plan. They wanted a federation of Palestine with 
Syria and Transjordan. The Jewish State under this plan would comprise the area designated 
under the Peel plan plus the Negev and the el-Jezireh area across the Jordan. Ben-Gurion and 
Namier had met with this group on 17 November and had explained that they would forgo 
the el-Jezireh area. In view of the fact that the British would not implement a compulsory 
transfer, Ben-Gurion felt that it was possible to establish "a Jewish State in the whole of 
Western Palestine even without transfer - a voluntary transfer would suffice." ('" ) 

/ Philby, Arabian Jubilee, op. cit., p.213. 

/ Shertok, IHiandwritten Diary entry 6 October 1939, op. cit., p.20 ; Diaries of Sharett, vol.iv, op. cit., p.376. 
/ Elizabeth Monroe, Philby of Arabia, (London, 1973), p.219. 
/ Norman Rose, Lewis Namier and Zionism, (Oxford, 1980), p.95. 
/ Philby, Arabian JubUee, op. cit., p.211. 

/ Yehoshua Porath, "The Philby Episode", Hazionut, vol.ix, (Tel-Aviv), 1984, p.227. 
/ Minutes J. A. Exec, vol.31/1, no.l8, 26 November 1939, p.6, (CZA). 
/ Porath, Hazionut, op. cit., p.230. 
"* I David Ben-Gurion, Diary entry 17 November 1939, (BGA). 

/ Minutes, J. A. Exec, 26 November 1939, op. cit.; Ben-Gurion, Diary entry 17 November 1939, op. cit. 

— 179 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

A report on the progress of the Philby plan was also given to the Political Committee of 
Mapai in November 1939. Berl Locker who had returned from London gave details of the plan 
to this forum. He then reported that in answer to Philby's question whether the Zionists 
would be able to raise 20 million pounds, Shertok had said "that it would not be easy since 20 
million pounds was a vast sum." Weizmann had said that if Philby would get the agreement 
of Ibn Saud, he would go to Roosevelt and tell him that if you want to solve the Jewish refugee 
problem in Europe, help us raise a loan for this purpose. Locker also reported on Philby's 
condition that France give up Syria, and on Arnold Lawrence's opinion that "this programme, 
and in particular the removal of the Arabs from Palestine to be impossible". Lawrence 
however, would not interfere but he would also not assist. (^) We thus see that Locker's 
assessment of Lawrence's negative reaction towards the Philby plan was less severe than the 
assessment by Ben-Gurion. 

Philby's plan was again mentioned in the same forum a few weeks later in a report given 
by Ben-Gurion on his visit to London. He said that Weizmann's thoughts on a Jewish State in 
Western Palestine rely mainly on Philby's plan which is just a "curiousity". Ben-Gurion felt it 
was good that Philby should speak to Ibn Saud, but it could not be considered sound political 
theory. (^) 

As stated earlier, Weizmann and Shertok had promised Philby that they would use 
their influence with the British and American Governments to gain acceptance and 
implementation of the plan. Weizmann first turned to Churchill, who at the beginning of the 
war had been appointed "First Lord of the Admiralty." Weizmann gained access to Churchill 
via the Conservative member of Parliament, Brendon-Bracken, who was a personal friend and 
strong supporter of Churchill. Brendon-Bracken reported to Churchill on Weizmann's meeting 
with Philby in which Weizmann stressed that Palestine could bloom as a Jewish State and 
that for twenty million pounds, Ibn Saud would offer the Arabs a far better home than they 
had ever had in Palestine. (') 

On 17 December 1939, Weizmann met with Churchill. From the notes of the interview, 
(*) we see that Philby's plan was not discussed at this meeting. However, in his book, Philby 
writes that Weizmann discussed his plan "in general terms" with Churchill at this meeting, 
(^) but Philby does not give the source of this information. 

Philby in Saudi Arabia 

At the beginning of January 1940, Philby returned to Saudi Arabia and on the 8th of the 
month communicated his plan to King Ibn Saud. Philby said that although there had been 
nothing whatsoever to prevent Ibn Saud from telling him "there and then that it was an 
impossible and unacceptable proposition", the King had agreed that "some arrangement 
might be possible in appropriate future circumstances" and had said that he would give him a 
definite answer at the appropriate time. He warned Philby meanwhile "not (to) breathe a 
word about the matter to anyone" especially any Arab. ('') 

At his meeting with Philby in the previous October, Weizmann had asked that in the 
event of Ibn Saud's giving his assent and support for the plan, Philby should send word to 
Namier. Namier in turn would contact Weizmann who by then would be in America. (') On 6 
February 1940, Weizmann in New York sent a one-sentence letter to Philby, "Am interested to 
know whether you are proceeding further with proposal we discussed." (*) A week later 
Philby replied by telegram, "Progressing slowly." (') Philby also wrote to his wife who was 
in London and she in turn wrote to Namier informing him that her husband's plan had "been 

/ Minutes of Meeting of Political Committee of Mapai, 8 November 1939, p. 10, (Mapai, file 23/39). 

/ Minutes of Meeting of Political Committee of Mapai, 27 November 1939, p. 8, (Mapai, fUe 23/39). 

/ Porath, Hazionut, op. cit., p.231. 

/ Short Note of Weizmann's Interview with Winston Churchill, 17 December 1939, (WA). 

/ Philby, Arabian Jubilee, op. cit., p.211. 

/ Philby's Note on Interview with Hoskins, 17 November 1943, (henceforth Philby's Memo), p.5, (WA). 

/ Notes on Meeting between Weizmann, Shertok, Namier and Philby, op. cit., p.2. 

/ Telegram, Weizmann to Philby, 6 February 1940, (WA) ; Weizmann Letters, vol.xbc, op. cit., no.206, p.224. 

/ Telegram, Philby to Weizmann, 13 February 1940, (WA). 

— 180 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

accepted in principle and he will think out how it can be worked." She also stressed that it 
had to be "treated as absolutely confidential" and should anything be leaked out Ibn Saud 
would "have no hesitation in denying the whole thing." {^) 

On 6 February 1940, Weizmann had a meeting at the U.S. State Department with the 
Secretary of State and Walter Murray. During the course of this meeting, Weizmann reported 
that he had recently met with Philby in London and the latter had informed him "that he 
would like to take back with him to Saudi Arabia some basis of settlement which the King 
might be willing to support." Weizmann had answered Philby "that the only thing the Jews 
had to offer was money" and if "the price of the King's support of a scheme whereby the 
Arabs of Palestine would be voluntarily transferred to Trans-Jordan and Iraq" was three to 
four million pounds, Weizmann would be prepared to raise such a sum. Philby had promised 
Weizmann that he would convey this offer to the King, but Weizmann "had no means of 
knowing whether anything would come of it." Weizmann concluded by saying that at that 
time he was waiting for information from Philby "as to Ibn Saud's reactions to the 
discussions." (^) It is not clear whether the letter he sent Philby on the day of this meeting 
was sent before the meeting or as a result of the meeting. 

Two days later, Weizmann met with President Roosevelt, but the notes of their 
conversation show that they did not specifically discuss the Philby plan. (^) Despite this, 
however, Philby wrote in his book that the two had discussed the plan at their meeting. (^) 

On 3 April, Dora Philby wrote to Weizmann pointing out that her husband had written 
to her stating that "he hadn't had much opportunity to see the king alone to discuss your 
proposition again." (') 

Two weeks later, Philby wrote a message to his wife to be passed on to Weizmann. 
Philby pointed out that Ibn Saud "still won't say yes and won't say no. The truth is that he 
himself is quite favourably inclined towards the proposal and is just thinking out how it can 
be worked without producing a howl of anger among certain Arab elements." He said that the 
Saudis were afraid that the Jews would not be able to "perform their part of the contract," but 
he had assured Ibn Saud that they would be able "to work that through their influence in 
America" and that Weizmann could "work up the American side of the scheme." Philby 
apologised that his plan was moving so slowly. (^) In reply Weizmann wrote that since the 
plan was so important and complex, it was not surprising that it was moving so slowly. He 
agreed with the suggestion that "some indication should come from America as to the 
feasibility of the proposal" and said that on his next trip to the States he would try to do 
something to satisfy Philby on this point. C) 

About this time, Philby reminded the King that the latter had not given him a definite 
reply to his proposition. Philby reported Ibn Saud as saying that whilst "he was convinced of 
my genuine desire to help him, he found it very difficult to help me to help him to achieve 
his ends!" (*) Despite this answer, Philby did not drop his plan, but sounded out some of the 
King's principal advisers. The first one was Yusuf Yasin, who was hostile to the plan but 
respected Philby's confidence. Later, he spoke to Bashir Sa'dawi, whose ideas he found 
"unexpectedly favourable." However, within an hour, Sa'dawi had informed the King of his 
conversation with Philby and that same afternoon the King rebuked Philby. (') Years later, 
Philby was still referring to his conversation on this matter with Sa'dawi as an error on his 
part. (190) 

In May of that year, Philby again pressed the King, but was again kept waiting for an 

^ / Dora PhUby to Namier, 21 February 1940, (WA). 

/ Memorandum of Conversation, State Department U.S.A. Division of Near Eastern Affairs, 6 February 1940, p. 8, 

/ Note of Conversation between Roosevelt and Weizmann, 8 February 1940, (WA). 

/ Philby, Arabian JubUee, op. cit., p.211. 
^ / Dora Phaby to Weizmann, 3 April 1940, (WA). 
^ / Dora PhUby to Weizmann, 16 April 1940, (WA). 
7 / Weizmann to Dora Philby, 24 April 1940, (CZA Z4/14615). 

/ Philby, Arabian lubUee, op. cit., pp.213-14. 
^ / Philby's Memo, p.6. 

— 181 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

answer, (i) At that time, Weizmann sent a message to Philby asking him for news of progress 
and assuring him of full confidence in his ability to secure acceptance of the plan. Philby 
replied that "positive results might still be expected in the event of the materialisation of 
the initiative envisaged in our original arrangements." (^) 

From the summer of 1940 until the spring of 1941, Philby was detained by the British 
under the defence regulations. (^) The reasons for his detention were not divulged. However, 
"The New York Times" suggested that the reason for his internment may have been the 
British Government's desire to prevent Philby "from exposing its present Arab policy, which 
he says led to the trouble in Iraq, which never would have arisen if his suggestions had been 
followed." C) After his release in the spring of 1941, Philby was in frequent touch with 
Namier and they invariably discussed his plan which Namier and his friends "had by no 
means given up as hopeless." (') 

Discussions with British Officials 

Immediately on his return to Britain from the United States in July 1941, Weizmann had 
two consecutive meetings with Lord Moyne, who a few months earlier, following the death of 
Lord Lloyd, had been appointed as Colonial Secretary. At their second meeting, Weizmann 
told Moyne of Philby's talks with Ibn Saud and with himself. Weizmann said that he 
"believed that the Jews would be willing to advance between fifteen and twenty million 
pounds to Ibn Saud for development purposes." Moyne replied that "some Arabs would have to 
be transferred, and wondered whether this could be done without bloodshed." Weizmann 
answered "that it could be done if Britain and America talked frankly to the Arabs." Moyne 
then remarked "that if transfer were to take place, he would like it to be done without 
friction." (^) 

A week later Moyne wrote to Sir Harold MacMichael, the High Commissioner of 
Palestine, about this meeting. He reported that Weizmann hoped that in return for this 
development loan to Saudi Arabia, "Ibn Saud would persuade his fellow Arabs to accept a 
Jewish enclave (more than a mere token state) in Palestine, displaced Arabs being resettled 
with Jewish money in Iraq or elsewhere." Moyne continued that he believed that Weizmann 
"got some sort of vague encouragement for his ideas from the Prime Minister (Churchill) some 
months ago." (') 

MacMichael replied that he did not see Ibn Saud "taking a "loan' of fifteen or twenty 
million pounds as an inducement to further Jewish designs in Palestine." He then referred 
indirectly to the element in Philby's plan regarding the transfer of Arabs and said that this 
scheme "for resettling displaced Arabs in Iraq is no doubt closely related to that prepared ... 
by Edward Norman." (^) 

At the beginning of November 1941, at the request of Weizmann, John Martin, the Prime 
Minister's Private Secretary agreed to meet Philby. The information and analysis which 
Philby presented to Martin at this meeting was very similar to that contained in the reports 
of Weizmann on his meetings with Philby at the beginning of the war, although in this 
meeting Philby was more decisive on the attitude of Ibn Saud. According to Martin, Philby 
said that Ibn Saud "was ready to agree to give Palestine to the Jews on condition that as quid 
pro quo he received control over all the remaining Arab countries." After presenting the 
details of his plan to Martin, Philby "suggested that the transfer would be substantially 
reduced if the Jews could be persuaded to accept the excision of part of northern Palestine 
(containing some quarter of a million Arabs), which would naturally go with Syria: they 

^ / Minutes J. A. Exec, vol.37/1, no.39, 27 April 1943, p.8, (CZA). 
^ / Philby's Memo, p.6. 

/ Philby, Arabian Jubilee, op. cit., p.214. 

/ "Philby says Britain rejected his Arab plan that would have averted trouble in Iraq", The New York Times, 9 May 
1941, p.5. 

/ Philby, Arabian Jubilee, op. cit., p.215. 
^ / Note of Interview with Lord Moyne, 28 July 1941, (WA). 
^ / Moyne to MacMichael, 6 August 1941, (PRO CO 733/444 75872/115). 
^ / MacMichael to Moyne, 1 September 1941, p.2, (PRO CO 733/444 75872/115). 

— 182 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

might be compensated if the Egyptians would agree to give up Sinai." Martin had "gained the 
impression" from Weizmann that Philby had more up-to-date news from Saudi Arabia, but in 
the course of his conversation with Philby, it became clear to him that Philby had not been in 
contact with Saudi Arabia since the beginning of 1940. However, Philby told Martin that he 
was convinced that the stand of Ibn Saud had not changed since then, (i) 

In his diary, Oliver Harvey, private secretary to Anthony Eden, after referring to this 
meeting wrote that he knew that Churchill "is much attracted by such a plan." It had been 
referred to many Middle Eastern capitals for a report, but the British representatives had 
said that they did not think it was feasible due to the "jealousies and mutual mistrust of the 
Arabs." C) 

Incidentally, Oliver Harvey was himself a strong proponent of transfer of Arabs. A few 
months earlier he had written "I am still firmly convinced that Palestine should be a Jewish 
State as part of an Arab Federation of States if necessary and the Palestine Arabs should be 
paid to go away." (') Again towards the end of 1942, he put forward this idea. "The only 
solution is a Jewish Palestine, which should be a British Palestine, the Arab inhabitants 
being transferred across the frontier and re-established there. There is plenty of room in 
Syria, Transjordan, Iraq and Arabia for the Palestine Arabs." (*) 

In his autobiography, Weizmann writes about a meeting which he had with Philby 
towards the end of 1941. At this meeting they had spoken about Palestine and Arab relations 
and Philby had made a statement which Weizmann had noted down "but which had seemed 
incomprehensible to me (Weizmann) coming from him (Philby)." Philby had stated that two 
requirements were necessary to solve the Zionist problems. These were firstly, that Churchill 
and Roosevelt should tell Ibn Saud that they wished to see the Zionist programme carried 
through; secondly, that they should support his overlordship of the Arab countries and raise 
a loan to enable him to develop his territories. (^) It is very difficult to understand 
Weizmann's comment that this statement seemed "incomprehensible" to him coming from 
Philby. Surely Weizmann could not have forgotten his earlier meeting with Philby which 
had been followed by contact with Brenden-Bracken and correspondence with Philby and his 
wife?! Again, two years later, something of a similar nature happened. At the beginning of 
December 1943, Weizmann reported to the Jewish Agency Executive in London that the Prime 
Minister had propounded the Philby scheme to him "and it had come as a complete surprise." 
(^) Yet less than two weeks later the same Weizmann was to write, "When Mr. Philby first 
discussed this scheme with me in the autumn of 1939." C) For some "reason" (which is not 
difficult to guess!), Weizmann was reluctant to admit that he had already known about and 
discussed Philby's plan as early as the autumn of 1939. 

Meetings between Weizmann, Namier and Philby were reported by the last-named to 
have taken place on 9 March and 17 March, 1942. (*) Philby did not state what was discussed 
at these meetings, but presumably his plan featured in the conversations. Incidentally, in his 
autobiography, Weizmann wrote that he had left for America on 11 March. (') However, in 
view of his meeting with Philby on 17 March, and a meeting with the new Colonial 
Secretary, Viscount Cranborne on 18 March, Weizmann's quoted date of 11 March is obviously 
an error. 

At this meeting between Weizmann and Viscount Cranborne, Weizmann pointed out that 
he had been "immensely attracted" by the Philby plan. He added that if the British 
Government "showed willingness to adopt such a solution", world Jewry would certainly make 
available the suggested sum of 20 million pounds. He himself proposed to say nothing about 

/ Martin to Prime Minister, 3 November 1941, (PRO PREM 4/52/5). 

/ The War Diaries of Oliver Harvey, ed. lohn Harvey, (London, 1978), p.59. 

/ Ibid., p.28. 

/ Ibid., p.l94. 

/ Charm Weizmann, Trial and Error, (London, 1949), p.526. 

/ Minutes, I. A. Exec, London, 2 December 1943, p.2, (CZA Z4/302/28i). 

/ Weizmann Letters, vol.xxi, op. cit., no. 106, p. 108. 

/ Philby, Arabian Jubilee, op. cit., p.215. 

/ Weizmann, Trial and Error, op. cit., p.525. 

— 183 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

this plan for "directly he mentioned such a proposal publicly, it would become part of the 
propaganda of the Zionist Movement and would as a result become anathema to the Arabs." 


Discussions by the Jewish Agency Executive 

The section of Philby's plan dealing with transfer of the Arabs from Palestine was 
discussed at a meeting of the Jewish Agency Executive in London in November 1942. The 
minutes report Namier as saying that "on the problem of transfer he agreed with Mr. Philby: 
it was necessary to have transfer in order to avoid friction", adding that Philby thought he 
could get Ibn Saud to agree to transfer, provided the Arabs were to be given independence 
elsewhere. Both Lord Melchett and Berl Locker, two members of the Executive were opposed 
"to putting forward compulsory transfer." Locker explained that by doing so "they would get 
the odium of having put it forward," but he thought that "with the agreement of Iraq, fairly 
large numbers of Arabs could be transferred." Namier asked whether, if they obtained the 
memorandum from Philby dealing with compulsory transfer, "they would be able to put it 
forward without in any way committing themselves." Melchett was more cautious and felt 
that "they should see the memorandum first." Simon Marks, another member of the 
Executive, and Chairman of the Board of the multiple chain store of Marks and Spencer, felt 
that they should ask for the establishment of a Jewish State within the British Empire and 
the "voluntary transfer of Arabs, with financial assistance, to neighbouring Arab States, 
particularly to Iraq." In reply, Namier commented that the conservatism of the peasants 
should not be underrated, but on the other hand, "there would be so much compulsory transfer 
of populations in Europe itself that it was bound to affect their problem." The Executive 
agreed that Namier should ask Philby to prepare a memorandum on this subject. (^) 

Earlier at this same meeting, Harry Sacher, a lawyer and a British Zionist leader, had 
asked whether the Executive were "in favour of transfer of the Arabs either by compulsion or 
persuasion." Melchett commented that instead of "sucking people from the desert into 
Palestine" the stream should be diverted in the opposite direction. He felt that for this 
purpose ten million pounds would be required so that "Palestinian Arabs could be settled in 
the Euphrates areas, Iraq etc. and by emigration and transfer, the minority status of the Jews 
would rapidly change." Namier, however, doubted "whether it would be possible to get the 
consent of the Palestinian Arabs." Agreement by the Great Powers would be easier to obtain. 
Sacher answered that the problem of minorities was not limited to Palestine, but it was a 
European problem. He stated that "he was prepared to proceed on the basis of compulsory 
transfer of - say - half a million people." Locker was worried that talking about compulsory 
transfer might lead to Arab disturbances. He felt that a partial transfer might be possible by 
agreement with the various Arab States, "but if they had to wait for the consent of the 
Palestine Arabs he was afraid they would never achieve anything at all." (^) 

At a meeting of the same Executive, held at the beginning of 1943, Namier asked 
whether now that the Arabs were "losing their nuisance value" the Executive should not press 
for a statement by Churchill and Roosevelt on the lines of the Philby scheme. (^) In a similar 
vein, at a meeting held two days later, Shertok said that Philby wanted Weizmann to take 
up the question with Roosevelt. (') 

About a week later, Weizmann, who had been in the United States since the previous 
March, had a meeting with the Under-Secretary of State, Sumner Welles. During the course 
of this meeting Weizmann informed Welles that he would like to travel to Saudi Arabia to 
put his solution of the Palestine problem to Ibn Saud. Although Weizmann did not refer to 
Philby, he detailed a plan which closely resembled Philby's. After observing that Arabs 
who desired to remain in Palestine would receive the same rights and privileges as the Jews, 

' / Cypher Telegram, Cranborne to MacMichael, 23 March 1942, pp. 1-2, (PRO CO 733/444 E 75871/115). 

2 / Minutes J. A. Exec, London, 23 November 1942, p.4, (CZA Z4/302/26). 

3 / Ibid., pp. 2-3. 

^ I Minutes, J. A. Exec, London, 16 January 1943, (CZA Z4/302/26). 
^ / Minutes, J. A. Exec, London, 18 January 1943, p.l, (CZA Z4/302/26). 

— 184 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

he said that "he also envisaged the possibihty of granting compensation to such Arabs as 
desired voluntarily to leave Palestine so that they might resettle in other parts of the 
Arabian world." (i) As we saw earlier, Philby's plan involved the removal of almost all the 
Arabs from Palestine, whereas Weizmann spoke of "such Arabs as desired voluntarily to 
leave Palestine." Possibly Weizmann's ideas on this subject in 1943 were different from those 
of Philby's. Perhaps, however, it was a matter of pragmatism. The financial situation of 
Saudi Arabia was considerably better in 1943 than it had been in 1939, and as a consequence 
Ibn Saud was in far less need of the twenty million pounds. The bargaining power of the 
Zionists was thus considerably reduced, hence Weizmann had to moderate the proposals on 
transfer. In fact, just a few months later, Ibn Saud was to send a strongly worded letter to 
Roosevelt, against Zionism and the Jews, in which he condemned any proposal to transfer 
Arabs from Palestine. "What a calamitous and infamous miscarriage of justice," wrote Ibn 
Saud, "would ... result from the world struggle if the Allies should, at the end of their 
struggle, crown their victory by evicting the Arabs from their home in Palestine, substituting 
in their place vagrant Jews, who have no ties with this country, except an imaginary claim." 


Colonel Hoskins' Visit to Saudi Arabia 

At a meeting held in June 1943 between Weizmann, President Roosevelt and Sumner 
Welles, the last-named asked the President whether he would like to send someone to Ibn 
Saud in order to prepare the ground for a possible conference. Welles then suggested that 
Hoskins might serve the United States well in this capacity. (') 

About a week and-a-half later, a meeting was held between the American Under- 
Secretary of State, Sumner Welles and Stephen Wise and Nahum Goldmann. At this meeting 
Goldmann complained about a memorandum written by Hoskins after his visit to the Middle 
East a year earlier. He described this memorandum as "subjective, one-sided and definitely 
hostile." He felt that Hoskins was unsuitable for such a mission since he was "prejudiced 
against the Zionist program" and in any case was not the right person to be sent to speak with 
Ibn Saud. Goldmann also complained that Hoskins had been propagandising Senators and 
Congressmen with his personal views; to this Welles answered that Hoskins had no right to 
speak to Senators on this matter. (*) 

Harold Hoskins was born in Beirut and reached the United States as a teenager. A 
textile executive by profession, he later became chairman of the Board of the American 
University of Beirut. During the Second World War, Hoskins undertook diplomatic missions 
in the Middle East on behalf of the United States Government. 

At the beginning of July 1943, the Secretary of State, Cordell Hull gave Hoskins a 
directive from Roosevelt ordering him to proceed to Saudi Arabia to ascertain whether Ibn 
Saud "would enter into discussions with Dr. Chaim Weizmann or other representatives 
selected by the Jewish Agency for the purpose of seeking a solution of basic problems affecting 
Palestine acceptable to both Arabs and Jews?" (') In August, Hoskins arrived in Saudi Arabia 
and entered into daily conversation with Ibn Saud. At the end of a week the King gave 
Hoskins "clear and categorical refusals" to meet with either Weizmann or a Jewish Agency 
representative. He went on to explain that during the first year of the war "Weizmann had 
impugned his character and motives by an attempted bribe of 20 million pounds sterling" using 
Philby as the intermediary. ('') According to another version, the sum was only 100,000 pounds 
sterling! (') [Incidentally, stories of this nature die hard and several months later, the story 

/ Memorandum of Conversation between Weizmann and Welles, 26 January 1943, pp. 1-2, (WA). 

2 / Ibn Saud to Roosevelt, 30 April 1943, FRUS, p.773. 

3 / Meeting between Weizmann, Roosevelt and Welles, 12 June 1943, p.3, (CZA Z5/1378). 

/ Minute of Conversation with Hon. Sumner Welles - Under Secretary of State, 21 June 1943, Washington D.C., 
(CZA Z6/2262). 
^ / Cordell Hull to Hoskins, 7 July 1943, FRUS, p.796. 

/ Memorandum by Harold Hoskins, 31 August 1943, FRUS, pp. 807-09' Minutes of Conversation with Colonel Harold 
Hoskins, Washington D.C., 28 December 1943, (CZA Z5/666). 

/ Memorandum of Conversation with H.M., re Ibn Saud, Washington D.C., 11 November 1943, (CZA Z5/666). 

— 185 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

that Weizmann had tried to bribe Ibn Saud was still making the rounds in England, (i)] Ibn 
Saud also told Hoskins that he had been informed that this twenty million pounds was being 
guaranteed by President Roosevelt and this "incensed" him. (^) When, on his return to the 
United States, Hoskins reported to the President on his meetings with Ibn Saud, Roosevelt 
"expressed surprise and irritation that his own name as guarantor of payment" had been 
mentioned. The only thing that "even bordered on this subject" said Roosevelt was "in a talk 
that he had had with Dr. Wise several years ago in which he had suggested that if the Jews 
wished to get more land in Palestine they might well think of buying arable land outside of 
Palestine and assisting Arabs financially to move from Palestine to such areas." (^) Roosevelt 
had obviously "forgotten" the various proposals he had made over the past few years on this 
subject; had forgotten also his letters to Brandeis and his meeting with Morgenthau! 

In a report to a meeting of the Jewish Agency Executive in London, Namier explained 
that Philby had been under a misconception when he attached the President's name to his 
plan as guarantor of payment. C) Weizmann echoed this in a letter to the (recently resigned) 
Under-Secretary of State, Sumner Welles, (^) also pointing out that when Philby had first 
discussed his plan with him and with Namier, they had replied that "Jewry, however 
impoverished, will be able to meet the financial burden." ('') 

Hoskins later came to London and on 7 November met with Weizmann. (') In the course 
of his report to Weizmann, Hoskins stated that as a result of this attempted bribe "Ibn Saud, 
had driven out Mr. Philby, and would never let him into Saudi Arabia again." (*) Four days 
later Weizmann and Namier met with Philby who told them "the story was nonsense. He 
had never been driven out; on the contrary when he wanted to leave Saudi Arabia, Ibn Saud 
had tried to keep him, saying he might come to grief if he left." (') A few days later, 
(probably 13 November), Hoskins had a further conversation on this subject with Weizmann 
and Namier in which "he appears to have modified to some extent his earlier remarks to Dr. 
Weizmann." {^^) After this meeting Namier reported on its contents to Philby. (^^) On 15 
November, Philby met with Hoskins on the grounds "that it was only fair" that Philby 
should "be given an opportunity of hearing disparaging criticisms" of himself which were 
being made "under the cover of official privilege." (^^) During the one and-a-half hour 
discussion between them, Philby pressed Hoskins to recollect as exactly as he could what the 
King had said about Philby. Had he, for example, said that he "had sent him away" or that 
he "would on no account ever allow him to return to Arabia"? Hoskins admitted that the King 
had not used any of these phrases, but from his comments to the proposals put to him by 
Philby, he gained the impression that Philby would be a persona non grata in Saudi Arabia. 


Why did Hoskins' mission to Saudi Arabia, fail? The first reason could have been his 
unsuitability for this task. As Weizmann pointed out in a letter to Sumner Welles, he had 
been from the outset against the choice of Hoskins as an emissary to Ibn Saud as Hoskins was 
"in general out of sympathy with our cause." ('^) The second reason for Hoskins' failure was 
that he knew nothing whatsoever about the plan that Philby had put to Ibn Saud in 1940. 
Hoskins first heard about Philby's plan from the King himself! ('^) It is true that Hoskins' 

1 / Minutes, I. A. Exec, London, 20 December 1943, (CZA Z4/302/28i). 

2 / Memorandum by Harold Hoskins, 31 August 1943, FRUS, p.809. 

/ Memorandum on Meeting between Hoskins and Roosevelt, 27 September 1943, FRUS, p. 812. 
^ I Minutes, I. A. Fxec, London, 15 November 1943, p.2, (CZA Z4/302/28i). 

^ / Weizmann to Welles, 7 December 1943, p.2, (CZA Z4/15463) ; Weizmann Letters, vol.xxi, op. cit., no. 106, p. 109. 
^ / Ibid., p.l; Ibid., p.l08. 

/ PhUby's Memo, op. cit., p.l. 
^ / Minutes, I. A. Fxec, London, 11 November 1943, p.l, (CZA Z4/302/28i). 
'* / Ibid. 
^^ / Philby's Memo, op. cit., p.2. 

/ Minutes, J. A. Fxec, London, 15 November 1943, op. cit., p.2 ; Philby's Memo, op. cit., p.2. 
^^ / Philby's Memo, op. cit., p.2. 
" /lbid.,pp.4-5. 

/ Weizmann to Welles, 7 December 1943, p.l, op. cit. ; Weizmann Letters, vol. xxi, op. cit., no. 106, p. 109. 
^^ / Philby's Memo, op. cit., pp.3-4. 

— 186 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

mission to Saudi Arabia was not directly connected with the "Philby Plan". Nevertheless, it 
is essential to brief an emissary fully if one is hoping for success. 

Further Discussions by the Jewish Agency Executive 

Following the Hoskins debacle, Namier informed the Jewish Agency Executive in 
London, that "he knew all the difficulties of the Philby scheme but if they were going for the 
whole of western Palestine... they should press for the Philby scheme." Weizmann then 
asked if Philby would be "prepared to go to Ibn Saud without having anything definite to 
offer in order to neutralise Colonel Hoskins' visit." Namier answered this in the negative. O 

Nearly two months later, a full discussion on the subject was held by the same 
Executive. Namier said that "they could still use the Philby Scheme with advantage. The 
proposal that Palestine should be reserved for the Jews and the Arabs transferred to 
Transjordan could be utilised as a counter-proposal to partition." An attempt should be made 
to verify whether Ibn Saud was still prepared to discuss the Philby plan. Namier considered 
that "the scheme had never been sufficiently pressed" and that Ibn Saud might be in favour of 
it since only half of Arabia was under his influence. It might be worth his while to forgo 
Palestine in order to gain the rest of Arabia. Namier was "in favour of pressing the scheme 
without making it dependent on Ibn Saud." Weizmann agreed that they should not put Ibn 
Saud in the forefront "but rather foster the idea of transfer to Transjordan." It had been 
suggested that if this were to be done in an orderly manner by the organisation of homesteads, 
for example, eighty per cent of the Arabs would agree. 

Namier observed that if Philby who was one of the greatest experts on Arab affairs 
could propose such a scheme, it was bound to make "a deep impression on British public 
opinion." Namier recommended that they "put the proposal forward again and again." Dr. 
Goldman asked "whether they really meant to make transfer an essential point of their 
scheme" since he considered that this "would mean a departure from the line taken hitherto." 
Weizmann then disingenuously suggested that "they might perhaps begin by saying that a 
piece of land should be bought in Transjordan and developed into homesteads, so as to attract 
the Arabs there." Namier pointed out that although the "idea of transfer might be unpopular 
now, it would work in the post-war period in other parts of the world, and would thus become 
more acceptable." Goldman disagreed. (^) 

It was during this period that civil servants at the British Foreign Office came out 
strongly against Philby's plan. As one civil servant wrote, "It has of course always been Mr. 
Philby's idea that we should give up our position in the Middle East as part of the bribe to Ibn 
Saud... It is evidence of Mr. Philby's pig-headedness that he should attribute Ibn Saud's 
rejection of the plan namely to the fact that it was presented in a bungling manner." Another 
civil servant wrote, "Anyone who thinks that Ibn Saud will look at this hair-brained scheme 
after what he has said about it, must be quite cracked." (^) 

Following these comments. Sir Maurice Peterson of the Foreign Office, in a 
communication to Sir Ronald Campbell, the British Ambassador to the United States, wrote, 
"Weizmann is still trying to press Philby's fantastic plan for Palestine." Peterson felt that 
"nothing but harm" to British interests could come from further efforts to press this plan on Ibn 
Saud, and instructed Campbell to take every opportunity to discourage such efforts. (*) 

According to the minutes of the Jewish Agency Executive in London, at this point, 
"Professor Namier said that Mr. Philby was depressed because he felt that his scheme was 
petering out." At their last meeting, Philby had told Namier that their friends were letting 
them down and that he had thought that the Jews had a "much greater influence in 
America." (') Weizmann offered to meet with Philby and at the beginning of February 1944, a 
meeting took place. Apart from the fact that Philby handed Weizmann a letter in Arabic 

^ / Minutes, J. A. Exec, London, 2 December 1943, p.l, (CZA Z4/302/28i). 

2 / Minutes, J. A. Exec, London, 25 January 1944, pp. 1-3, (CZA Z4/302/28i). 

3 / Comments by Civil Servants, 13 January 1944, (PRO EO 371/40139 E 206/206/31). 
* / Peterson to Campbell, 25 January 1944, (PRO EO 371/40139 E 206/206/31). 

^ / Minutes, J. A. Exec, London, 7 January 1944, (CZA Z4/302/28i). 

— 187 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

from Ibn Saud, no further details of the meeting or even of the contents of this letter are 
recorded, (i) 

In a letter written by Weizmann to Jan Christiaan Smuts on 12 June 1944, Weizmann 
observed "Mr. Philby, as I told you, still regards the scheme as feasible." (^) We thus see that 
in June 1944 Philby was still concerning himself with his transfer plan. After that date 
however, there seems to be no record of attempts to advance Philby's plan. 

Real Attitude of Ibn Saud towards the "Philby Plan" 

What was the real attitude of Ibn Saud to the "Philby Plan", a plan which included 
the removal of almost all the Arabs from Palestine? Did his attitude towards this plan 
change between 1940 and 1943? When Philby first put his plan to Ibn Saud, the King did not 
turn it down but said that he would give him a definite answer at the appropriate time. 
Three years later in a letter to Roosevelt, Ibn Saud wrote about an "infamous miscarriage of 
justice" that would arise from the eviction of the "Arabs from their home in Palestine, 
substituting in their place vagrant Jews." A few months after that he was to describe the 
twenty million pounds for the transfer of the Arabs as an "attempted bribe" and to give 
Hoskins the distinct impression that Philby was a persona non grata in Arabia. 

How can we explain this apparent deterioration in Ibn Saud's attitude towards Philby 
and his plan? Two different answers to this question seem to emerge. 

The first, brought by both Hoskins (^) and Elizabeth Monroe C) suggests that Philby 
misinterpreted Ibn Saud's silence as consent when the plan was first put before him in January 
1940. [The term "silence" is used by both Hoskins and Monroe in the sense of no definite 
answer.] Hoskins was convinced that "there never was any possibility of acceptance and there 
is none today (August 1943)." According to this view, there was no change in Ibn Saud's 
attitude towards the plan. He was always against Philby's plan, but was unwilling to express 
his disagreement until 1943. 

On the other hand, Namier held that Ibn Saud had in fact changed his mind once. He 
therefore recommended that the proposal be put before the King repeatedly in the hope that 
Ibn Saud would change his mind again. (^) It has been suggested that Saudi Arabia's changed 
financial position played a major role in the King's changed attitude to Philby's plan. One of 
the effects of the Second World War was to interfere with the Moslem pilgrimages to Mecca, 
hence causing a reduction in Ibn Saud's income from that source. He therefore required new 
sources of income. (^) By 1943, however, his financial situation had improved, since oil was 
playing an important role in his country's revenues. In fact, Weizmann who also held that Ibn 
Saud had changed his mind, attributed this change in attitude "to the intervention of certain 
representatives of the oil companies which hold important concessions in Saudi Arabia, and 
which must provide Ibn Saud with a considerable income." In Weizmann's experience, the 
activities of such companies in the Middle East were usually anti-Jewish. (') On this basis, 
Ibn Saud's change of mind in 1943 becomes quite clear. Weizmann still felt, however, "in spite 
of Colonel Hoskins' adverse report, that properly managed, Mr. Philby's scheme offers an 
approach which should not be abandoned without further exploration." (^) 

Philby explained the reactions of Ibn Saud differently. In January 1940, Philby first put 
his plan to the King and for the subsequent six and-a-half months remained as a guest of the 
King. Ibn Saud then made him a gift of a newly-built house and when Philby wanted to leave 
the country, begged him to stay. (') It goes without saying that all this is inconsistent with a 
display of royal displeasure. 

/ Minutes, J. A. Exec, London, 7 February 1944, (CZA Z4/302/28i). 

/ Weizmann to Smuts, 12 lune 1944, p. 3, (WA) ; Weizmann, Letters, vol.xxi, op. cit., no.l69, p. 191. 

/ Memorandum by Harold Hoskins, 31 August 1943, FRUS, pp.809-10. 

/ Monroe, Philby of Arabia, op. cit., p.222. 

/ Minutes, J. A. Exec, London, 25 January 1944, op. cit., p.2. 

/ Note of Meeting between Namier and Philby, op. cit., p.l. 

/ Weizmann to Rosenman, 4 January 1944, p.2, (CZA Z4/15463) ; Weizmann Letters, vol.xxi, op. cit., no. 118, p. 118. 

/ Weizmann to Welles, 7 December 1943, p.3, op. cit. ; Ibid., vol.xxi, no.l06, p. 110. 

/ PhUby's Memo, op. cit., pp.6-7. 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

When in the summer of 1943, Ibn Saud heard that he was being visited officially by an 
emissary of the United States Government, he naturally assumed that the official was coming 
to make him a firm offer on the basis of the "Philby Plan". However, at their meeting, the 
emissary made no such offer, so the King "fully accustomed to the tortuous ways of diplomacy" 
remained silent. Since at a subsequent meeting, held a few days later, Hoskins still made no 
mention of the plan, the King realised that it had "not won acceptance" by the American and 
British Governments and in a fit of temper made derogatory comments about Weizmann and 
Philby. (1) Philby was still of the opinion that should the British and American Governments 
make a firm offer on the basis of his plan, Ibn Saud would accept. (^) 

These conflicting interpretations of Ibn Saud's behaviour reflect more on the attitude 
towards Zionism of those proffering these interpretations, than on the King's behaviour. 
Those who were hostile to Zionism held that Ibn Saud was consistently against the Philby 
Plan, whilst those who were pro-Zionist felt that he had had a change of heart. The 
exception to this was, of course Philby, who for other obvious reasons was highly subjective in 
his interpretations of Ibn Saud's actions. 

The Namier - Baffy Plan 

Soon after his meetings with Philby in the autumn of 1939, Namier and Blanche 
Dugdale (Baffy) put forward their own plan for Palestine which very closely resembled 
Philby's plan. 

They discussed the problems that would, at the end of the war, confront millions of East 
and Central European Jews who had been uprooted from their homes. [At the time of this 
plan, the Holocaust was still a thing of the future.] Only Palestine could offer a satisfactory 
solution for these Jews. They felt that from the Jewish point of view "the most desirable 
solution would be to obtain the whole of Palestine west of the Jordan with a transfer of the 
Arab population for re-settlement in other Arab countries." They considered that for this. 
World Jewry could provide the finance and that the transfer would result in a great 
improvement in the economic conditions of both the transferees and the host countries. It 
would seem that like Philby, they intended the transfer of almost all of the Arabs from 

Namier and Baffy said that should all this prove impossible, the next best thing would 
be a Jewish Palestine within the frontiers suggested by the Peel Commission plus the Negev 
and considerable Jewish settlement in the el-Jezireh region (north Syria). "This would imply 
much smaller transfers of Arab population", they wrote. 

As compensation for providing a solution to the Jewish problem in Europe and satisfying 
Jewish historic claims and aspirations, they suggested that the Arabs be given the most 
extensive help with a view to establishing their political unity and independence. 

In conclusion, they considered that should a Arab-Jewish programme be worked out on 
these lines it would gain overwhelming support from both British and American public 
opinion, with the added advantage that British strategic interests could be fully safeguarded 
within the Jewish State in western Palestine. (^) 

There is no indication as to whom this plan was submitted and what reactions there 
were to it. 

About two years later, in September 1941, an article written by Baffy appeared in the 
"Congress Weekly", a newspaper published by the American Jewish Congress. In this article 
she discussed the Mandates question and its effect on the political future of Palestine. She felt 
that the Mandates system would come to an end although it had not broken down. However 
she considered that the machinery for protecting minorities had broken down. In order to 
prevent the problem of minorities from becoming a threat to world peace, she said that it was 
necessary to reduce it "physically as far as possible". Baffy's solution was "exchange of 

1 / Ibid., pp.8-9. 

2 / Ibid., p. 10. 

^ / Plan by Namier and Blanche Dugdale, (no heading on plan), 13 November 1939, (CZA A312/27). 

— 189 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

populations... provided always that it is carried out carefully, gradually, and humanely" (^). 
One should note that she was discussing this question generally and did not specifically 
mention Palestine in this connection. 

/ Mrs. Edgar Dugdale ["Baffy"], "Notes from London", Congress Weekly, (New York), vol.8, no.30, 5 September 1941. 

— 190 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 



The Report 

Following the campaign of Arab terrorism in Palestine in 1936, the British Government 
decided to send out a Royal Commission which would "without bringing into question the 
fundamental terms of the Mandate, investigate the causes of unrest and any alleged 
grievances either of Arabs or of Jews." On 29 July, the appointment of this Royal Commission 
was announced. It was to be chaired by Lord Peel, a former Secretary of State for India. The 
five other members were Sir Horace Rumbold, one of the ablest men in the Diplomatic Service 
with wide experience as Minister and Ambassador in many countries of the world; Sir Laurie 
Hammond, a distinguished Indian Civil Servant; Sir William Morris Carter, an ex-Colonial 
Chief Justice, better known for his searching analysis of the problems of native lands and 
interests confronted with an immigrant community, both in Rhodesia and Kenya; Sir Harold 
Morris, the universally acclaimed Chairman of the Industrial Court in Britain; and Professor 
Reginald Coupland, Professor of Colonial History at Oxford, whose knowledge and study of 
Colonial administration in the then British Colonial Empire and in other colonial spheres 
was well known to students throughout the world. 

This Commission (popularly known as the "Peel Commission") arrived in Palestine in 
mid-November 1936 and during the course of the next two months took evidence from over one 
hundred witnesses. On their return to England, the members of the Commission worked for 
another six months on their Report and at the end of June 1937 presented it to the British 
Government. The Report was unanimous and consisted of over four hundred pages. It included a 
comprehensive and analytical survey of the Palestine problem, an examination of the 
operations of the Mandate, and proposals for "the possibility of a lasting settlement" 

Chapter xxii of the Report dealt with a plan of partition. Under this plan, the 
Mandate would terminate and Palestine would be divided into three areas: a Jewish State 
including the whole of the Galilee, the whole of the Jezreel Valley, the greater part of the 
Beisan and all of the coastal plain from Ras el-Nakura (Rosh Hanikra) in the north to Beer- 
Tuvia in the South; an Arab State containing the rest of Palestine west of the Jordan together 
with Transjordan; a British enclave remaining under Mandate, containing Jerusalem, 
Bethlehem and Nazareth on a permanent basis and as a temporary measure the towns of 
Haifa, Acre, Tiberias and Safed, which would ultimately become part of the Jewish State. 

There were nearly a quarter of a million Arabs within the boundaries of the proposed 
Jewish State and about one and a half thousand Jews within the boundaries of the proposed 
Arab State. This was seen by the members of the Peel Commission as a serious problem and 
section 10 of chapter xxii of the Report dealt with this issue under the heading "Exchange of 
Land and Population." "If Partition is to be effective in promoting a final settlement it must 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

mean more than drawing a frontier and establishing two States. Sooner or later there should 
be a transfer of land, and as far as possible, an exchange of population." (i) 

A later paragraph stated that the existence of Jews in the Arab State and Arabs in the 
Jewish State would clearly constitute "the most serious hindrance to the smooth and successful 
operation of Partition." The "Minority Problem" had become only too familiar in recent years 
whether in Europe or in Asia and was one of the most troublesome and intractable products of 
post-war nationalism. The Report noted that nationalism was at least as intense a force in 
Palestine as it was anywhere else in the world. (^) 

Similarly, under the entry "Refugees and the Exchange of Populations", the 
Encyclopaedia Britannica stated, "The mixture of populations had led to so much political 
trouble in modern times that this unmixing process must be regarded as a very considerable 
advantage." O 

The Peel Commission believed that the partition of Palestine between the Arabs and 
Jews might "ultimately moderate and appease it as nothing else could." However, the 
members of the Commission were sufficiently experienced to realise that Partition could not 
absolutely eliminate friction, incidents and recriminations. The paragraph thus concluded, "If 
then the settlement is to be clean and final, this question of the minorities must be boldly 
faced and firmly dealt with. It calls for the highest statesmanship on the part of all 
concerned." C) 

The next paragraph of the Report quoted the precedent of a compulsory exchange of 
population between Greece and Turkey following the Greco-Turkish War of 1922, on the basis 
of a proposal by Dr. Fridtjof Nansen. (') 

Nansen, who was born in Norway in 1861, was a scientist, polar explorer and statesman. 
In 1921, he directed relief work for famine-stricken Russia. As the League of Nations' first 
High Commissioner for refugees, he was responsible for the protection and settlement of 
Russian, Armenian and Greek refugees. In 1922, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. 

Following the war of 1921-2 between Turkey and Greece, Nansen put forward a proposal 
to solve the minorities problem existing between these two countries, in which there would be 
a compulsory exchange of population between Greece and Turkey. At the beginning of 1923, a 
convention was signed in Lausanne between Greece and Turkey providing for the compulsory 
transfer to Greece of Greek nationals of the Orthodox faith living in Turkey and the 
compulsory transfer to Turkey of Turkish nationals of the Moslem faith living in Greece, 
although some of the transferees' families had lived for over a century in the host country. A 
Mixed Commission and a group of sub-commissions, with members from the Greek and Turkish 
Governments and from the League of Nations, was set up. These commissions supervised or 
actually carried out the transportation of the persons transferred from one country to the 
other, valued their property, kept an exact record of it and established their claim for this 
value against the government of the country to which they were moved. A refugee settlement 
loan was floated under the auspices of the League of Nations, to enable Greece to absorb her 
refugees into productive employment. As a result of this loan, the refugees were absorbed very 
quickly into the economic system of the country. No such loan was made to Turkey. As a result 
the integration of the refugees in Turkey was more difficult. The number of people transferred 
was high - no less than some 1,300,000 Greeks and some 400,000 Turks. However, within 
eighteen months, the whole exchange was completed. Naturally, with an exchange of 
population involving nearly two million .people there were difficulties, particularly, in the 
liquidation of the ensuing property disputes, but following the settlement of all these 
problems, in 1930, a treaty of friendship was concluded between these two countries. 

The Peel report noted that "Dr. Nansen was sharply criticized at the time for the 

/ Palestine Royal Commission Report, Cmd 5479, London, July 1937, Chapter xxii, (henceforth Peel Report), para.36, 
^ / Ibid., para.39, p.390. 

/ "Refugees and the Exchange of Populations", Encyclopaedia Britannica, vol.19, (Chicago, 1955), p.56. 
^ I Peel Report, para.39, p.390. 
^ / Ibid., para. 40, p.390. 

— 192 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

inhumanity of his proposal, and the operation manifestly imposed the gravest hardships on 
multitudes of people. But the courage of the Greek and Turkish statesmen concerned has been 
justified by the result. Before the operation the Greek and Turkish minorities had been a 
constant irritant. Now the ulcer had been clean cut out, and Greco-Turkish relations, we 
understand are friendlier than they have ever been before." (^) 

Admittedly the analogy between the Greco-Turkish situation and the Palestine 
situation broke down at one essential point. In Northern Greece a surplus of cultivated land 
was available, or could be made available for the Greeks who were transferred from Turkey. 
However, in Palestine, no such surplus existed at that time. There would be no problem finding 
land for Jews transferred from the Arab State. The problem would arise for the far greater 
number of Arabs transferred from the Jewish State. The Report stated that "while some of 
them could be resettled on the land vacated by the Jews, far more land would be required for 
the resettlement of all of them." It was to be hoped that the execution of large-scale plans for 
irrigation, water-shortage and development in Transjordan, Beersheba and the Jordan Valley 
would solve this problem. {^) It was suggested that an immediate survey and authoritative 
estimate be made of the practical possibilities of irrigation and development in these areas. 
"If, as a result, it is clear that a substantial amount of land could be made available for the 
re-settlement of Arabs living in the Jewish area, the most strenuous efforts should be made to 
obtain an agreement for the exchange of land and population." Thus the availability of 
additional land would bring the situation in Palestine closer to the Greco-Turkish situation of 
1923. Furthermore, the numbers to be transferred would be far smaller. Since transfer would 
reduce the antagonism existing between Jew and Arab and remove the potential for future 
Arab-Jewish friction, the members of the Commission hoped "that the Arab and the Jewish 
leaders might show the same high statesmanship as that of the Turks and the Greeks and 
make the same bold decision for the sake of peace." In conclusion, "If an agreement on the 
question were secured, provisions should be inserted in or added to the Treaties for the transfer 
under the supervision and control of the Mandatory Government, of land and population to the 
extent to which new land is, or may within a reasonable period become, available for re- 
settlement." C) 

As stated earlier, the Peel proposals allotted the Galilee, whose population was 
almost entirely Arab, and the Plains where the population was mixed, to the Jewish State. 
Paragraph 43 of chapter xxii made a distinction between these two areas with respect to the 
proposal for the exchange of land and population. In the case of North Galilee the Report 
stated that "it might not be necessary to effect a greater exchange of land and population than 
could be effected on a voluntary basis." The use of compulsion was not, however, excluded for 
the remaining areas. "But as regards the Plains, including Beisan, and as regards all such 
Jewish colonies as remained in the Arab State when the Treaties come into force, it should be 
part of the agreement that in the last resort the exchange would be compulsory." (*) 

Who was to pay for the irrigation and development of the areas to which the Arabs 
would be moved from the Jewish State? The members of the Commission considered that the 
cost was heavier than the Arab States could be expected to bear, and suggested that the 
British people would be willing to help in order to bring about a settlement. The Commission 
recommended that "if an arrangement could be made for the transfer, voluntary or otherwise, 
of land and population. Parliament should be asked to make a grant to meet the cost of the 
aforesaid scheme." (') It can be seen that once again, the Peel Report spoke of the possibility 
of a compulsory transfer, or as they said "the transfer, voluntary or otherwise." 

The mechanics of such a transfer would be protracted. First, the area would have to be 
surveyed and if found to be favourable, would be irrigated and developed. Only then could the 
transfer be put into operation. The members of the Commission considered that in all 

1 / Ibid. 

2 / Ibid., para.41, pp.390-91. 

3 /Ibid.,para.42,p.391. 
^ /Ibid.,para.43,p.391. 

^ / Ibid., para.44, pp.391-92. 

— 193 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

probability the proposed Treaty System would come into operation before all these things 
were completed. Therefore it should be laid down in the Treaties "that the full control of this 
work, as also of any such operations for the exchange of land and population as may be agreed 
on, should continue to be exercised by the Mandatory Government until its completion." (}) 

The final word in the Report on this exchange of land and population was that the 
irrigation and development should be carried out with the least possible delay and that a 
new Partition Department be established in Jerusalem to deal with this work and such 
exchange operations as might follow. {^) 

Before publication of the Peel Report, several of the members of the Commission wrote 
memoranda, as a basis for internal discussion. One of these memoranda was written by 
Reginald Coupland who said that he had "drafted this Note after full discussion with Sir 
Laurie Hammond and I think it represents our joint suggestions on the main points." (') 

In this paper he dealt at length with transfer of Arabs under the heading "The 
Exchange of Land and Population". While stating that this was by "far the most difficult 
part of the whole scheme", he admitted that there was "the encouraging precedent of the 
compulsory shifting" of nearly two million Greeks and Turks. (^) 

After discussing details regarding demographic distribution, availability of land, 
surveying and funding, Coupland continued that "the ideal would be the evacuation of all 
Arabs and Jews from the Jew [sic] and Arab States respectively. This ideal was actually 
achieved in the Greco— Turkish exchange by a system of rigorous compulsion, the hardships of 
which have been compensated by the creation of peace and amity." He pointed out that this 
work had been made easier by virtue of the fact that both the Greek and Turkish governments 
had agreed and co-operated and because land had been available "it could all be done in one 
continuous vigorous 'push'." It was, said Coupland, rather different in Palestine where there 
was not a lot of land available and thus "it is for consideration whether it might not be wise 
to leave the exchange of land and people during the Transition period on a voluntary basis." 
However, at the end of this five year transition period "the processwouldbecomecompulsory 
.... Arab land-owners in the Jewish State and Jewish land-owners in the Arab State (if any are 
left there), would be compelled to sell their land at a fixed price provided that the 
Department had land available in the other State for the re-settlement of the owners, 
tenants or labourers. The evacuation and re-settlement of these latter would also be 
compulsory. This compulsory process might be repeated after an interval in which more land 
might have become available for re-settlement." (^) 

Coupland then asked if at the end "a substantial number of Arabs are left on Jewish land 
for whom there is no land for re-settlement, what then?" His answer was that "it would be up 
to the Jews to bribe the residue of Arabs out." (^) 

He felt that the use of compulsion was necessary because "only so will the maximum of 
exchange be achieved." (') 

Another problem raised by Coupland to which he did not provide a solution was the 
fate of the urban Arabs, who were mostly labourers. "Shall we ignore them? Or shall we 
recommend that Government, under the Re-settlement Scheme, persuades (or compels) them to 
settle on the new land made available?" (*) 

Coupland concluded by asking what would happen if the Arabs refused to agree to the 
partition of Palestine? He believed that in such a case "the Jews should nevertheless be 
empowered to purchase Arab land in the Jewish State at a fixed price". With regards to 
compulsory transfer he was less certain. "It seems doubtful if they should also have the power 
to evacuate, although without that power they might be confronted with a problem of 

/ Ibid., para.45, p.392. 

/ Ibid., para.46, p.392. 

/ Reginald Coupland, Note for Discussion on Partition, undated (8 June 1937 ?), p.l, (PRO CO 733/346/75550/41). 

/ Ibid., p.l2. 

/ Ibid., pp.18-22. 

/ Ibid., p. 22. 

/ Ibid., p. 23. 

/ Ibid., pp.23-24. 

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ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

landless Arabs' in the Jewish State." He hoped a solution to this problem would appear 
"when the time comes". O 

One might mention that nearly a year later, after the British Government had 
completely changed its views and came out strongly against compulsory transfer, Coupland 
wrote a confidential letter to Weizmann and asked him to consider: "Failing a full-scale 
transfer (such as we recommended) can a plan be made for as much organised transfer as may 
be possible from the J. [Jewish] to the A. [Arab] area?" {^). We can thus see that even though 
the British Government was now opposing compulsory transfer, Coupland was still tying to 
salvage what he could from the Peel Commission's transfer proposal. 

Another memorandum was written by Laurie Hammond on 23 May 1937 and was entitled 
"Note on 'Clean Cut'". In it, Hammond briefly entered into the question of transfer. He wrote 
as regarding Arabs left in the Jewish State or Jews left in the Arab State "we are, I gather, 
unanimous in agreeing" on a number of principles. One of these principles was that any such 
Arab or Jew "can claim to be bought out and given compensation ...". With regards to 
compulsory transfer he wrote "that there will be no compulsory transfer of population, except 
by voluntary agreement between the two States." In other words, the Jewish and Arab States 
could come to an agreement to compulsorily transfer population from their respective states 
and thus the individual transferees would have to move accordingly, whether they liked it 
or not! Hammond added the provision that "such transfer can only be effected when it has 
been proved that land suitable for the transferred population is actually available." (') 

Schechtman, in 1949, presenting his study of "The Case for Arab-Jewish Exchange of 
Population" held that there were three fundamental weaknesses in the Peel Commission's 
transfer proposal "which finally doomed the scheme in its entirety." 

The first was that the Commission was in fact proposing a "one-way transfer of Arabs" 
since one could not balance 1,250 prospective Jewish transferees for the Arab State against 
225,000 Arabs to be transferred from the Jewish state. "The ratio of almost 1:200 was conducive 
to the idea that there was not only inequality in numbers, but inequality in the very approach 
to, and treatment of the two ethnic groups involved." Actually, Schechtman is not 
mathematically accurate here. The Peel Report did not envisage the transfer of all the Arabs 
from the Jewish State. Paragraph 43 of Chapter xxii of the Report specifically stated that 
the transfer of the Arabs of North Galilee, as distinct from the remainder of the country, 
would be on a voluntary basis. In all probability, many North Galilean Arabs would choose 
not to transfer. The ratio would therefore be much lower than 1:200. However, it would still be 
high, hence the psychological argument brought by Schechtman is still valid. 

The second weakness in the Peel Commission's proposal was that it "provided for the 
transfer of Arabs from the prospective Jewish State to the prospective Arab State only, 
without envisaging their resettlement in other, already existing, large Arab States with 
insufficient population." (^) In the Parliamentary debates following the Peel Commission's 
Report, several members had suggested that the Arab emigrants from the Jewish State be in 
part resettled in various existing Arab countries, rather than entirely within the borders of 
the original Mandatory Palestine. 

Ten years later in 1947, following the decision of the United Nations to create separate 
Jewish and Arab States in Palestine, Anthony Eden, who had been Foreign Secretary at the 
time of the Peel Report, reminded the House in a two-day debate on Palestine, that the Peel 
Commission had recommended a population transfer, but the difficulty had been that "they 
were dealing only with Palestine." Eden then said, "I should have thought that the question 
which now arises is whether, with the co-operation of the adjoining Arab states, room might 
not be found to absorb some part of the Arab minority which will be left in the Jewish State. I 
should have thought that this was a question worth pursuing." (') 

' / Ibid., pp.27-28. 

2 / Coupland to Weizmann, 17 April 1938, p.l, (CZA S25/10058). 

3 / Laurie Hammond, Note on 'Clean Cut', 23 May 1937, p.3, (PRO CO 733/346/75550/41). 
/ Schechtman, Population Transfers in Asia, op. cit., p.89. 

/ Parliamentary Debates, Commons, vol.445, 12 December 1947, c.1385. 

— 195 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

The third weakness Schechtman noted was that "the lack of clarity about the 
voluntary or compulsory character of the transfer, jeopardised the workability of the entire 
partition solution." (i) It is difficult to understand Schechtman here. As far as the Report is 
concerned, paragraph 43 of chapter xxii clearly designated which areas were to have, if 
necessary, a compulsory transfer of population, and in which areas transfer was to be 

Jewish Agency Discusses Transfer 

In the autumn of 1936, whilst the Peel Commission was collecting evidence, the 
executive of the Jewish Agency held two meetings in which the subject of transfer of Arabs 
was discussed. 

The first of these meetings took place on 21 October. (2) At it, the Chairman David Ben- 
Gurion said: "Mr. Ussishkin spoke on population transfer, but the example which he 
mentioned was a population exchange between two countries Turkey and Greece who came to a 
mutual agreement on this. To our sorrow we are not yet a state and England will not do this for 
us and will not remove the Arabs from Palestine." Later in his speech, Ben-Gurion argued that 
if the Jews were to tell the Peel Commission that the Arabs should be transferred to Iraq or 
Iran, this would only strengthen the hands of the anti-Zionists. The members of the 
Commission would return to England believing that the Jews wanted to expel the Arabs from 
Palestine, and thus, this approval by Ussishkin would be a catastrophe for the Jews. 

To this Ussishkin retorted, "Is it our politics to expel the Arabs from Palestine?" 

Ben-Gurion then answered Ussishkin, "But that is what you said", adding, that if he 
would repeat it before an Englishman he would only cause damage. 

From this exchange, it seems that Ben-Gurion was not opposed to transfer, but felt it was 
bad tactics and thus harmful to bring it up before the Peel Commission. We can in fact see Ben- 
Gurion's approval of transfer from a further meeting of the Jewish Agency Executive held just 
a few weeks later on 1 November. Needless to say these meetings were closed and the minutes 
clearly marked "Confidential"! 

At this November meeting, (^) Ben-Gurion asked, "Why can't we purchase land there 
[Transjordan] for Arabs who want to settle in Transjordan? If it is permitted to transfer an Arab 
from the Galilee to Judea, why is it forbidden to transfer an Arab from the Hebron area to 
Transjordan, which is far closer?" Ben-Gurion said that he could see no difference between the 
west bank and the east bank of the Jordan. 

Rabbi Yehudah Leib Fishman (later Maimon) was worried that by transferring Arabs 
only to Transjordan, the Jews would be giving up their rights to this area. Ben-Gurion 
categorically discounted this saying that by transferring Arabs to Transjordan the Jews would 
be solving an overcrowding problem west of the Jordan. Rabbi Fishman then asked Ben-Gurion, 
"Why not transfer them also to Iraq?" 

Ben-Gurion replied that Iraq was not within the area of the Palestine Mandate. 
However if King Ghazi of Iraq would agree, Ben-Gurion said that he would not object, adding 
however that the Iraqi authorities at that period were not prepared to agree to such a 
transfer. He then argued, "If for some reason we are not able to settle there [Transjordan] we 
will resettle there the Arabs whom we will transfer from Palestine. Even the High 
Commissioner [Sir Arthur Wauchope] has agreed to this on condition we provide the 
transferees with land and money ... and we agreed to this." 

After Ben-Gurion had summarised his remarks, Maurice Hexter and David Senator, two 
non-Zionist memebers of the Executive of the Jewish Agency, objected to the proposal to 
transfer Arabs to Transjordan. [However, just a year later, after the Peel Commission had 
proposed transfer. Senator was to tell the same Jewish Agency Executive, "We should strive 
for maximum transfer", and Hexter was to attend meetings of the Population Transfer 
Committee of the Jewish Agency (- not for the purpose of opposing transfer!).] 

/ Schechtman, Population Transfers in Asia, op. cit., p.89. 

2 / Minutes, J. A. Exec, 21 October 1936, pp.9-11, (CZA). 

3 / Minutes, J. A. Exec, 1 November 1936, pp.8-9, (CZA). 

— 196 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

During the following months, proposals for Arab transfer were submitted to the Peel 
Commission by Jewish organisations. Masalha goes as far as to suggest that transfer "was at 
the very center of Zionist lobbying efforts." (^) However as we have already seen, the 
assessments by Masalha in this matter must be treated with great caution. 

One such proposal was submitted to the Peel Commission by the Jewish Agency 
Executive in February 1937. This memorandum contained a plan which dealt with the 
question of land and settlement in various areas of Palestine. The first stage would be to 
present the British Government with a plan for "crowding together existing Arab settlement, 
concentrating it in one location or several specific locations and evacuating an area for Jewish 
settlement." In the first instance, the Jews would try and get the agreement of the Arabs to 
give them part of their land in exchange for certain advantages, but should the Arabs fail to 
agree, then the plan required the British Government to "force the [Arab] people to exchange 
land or to move from one place to another." {^) 

In the following month, Namier met with Weizmann and informed him in the greatest 
of secrecy of a meeting he had had with Reginald Coupland who was a member of the Peel 
Commission. At this meeting, Coupland had asked whether the Jews would be prepared to 
financially help the proposed Arab state. Namier had answered that such help would not be 
in cash but the "Jews were prepared to develop certain areas in the Arab state, in order to use 
them also for the purpose of a population exchange" - (the intention being development for 
the purpose of transferring Arabs from the proposed Jewish state to the proposed Arab state). 

On 12 June 1937, Shertok dined at the house of George Wadsworth, the U.S. Consul- 
General, during which they conversed at length. In the course of this conversation, the 
question of Transjordan came up. According to Shertok's diary, Wadsworth had said that "he 
knew Government had been rather strongly impressed by the suggestion contained in our final 
memorandum to the Royal [Peel] Commission about transplanting Arabs from Western 
Palestine to Transjordan in order to make room for new Jewish settlers. This was considered to 
be an eminently constructive proposal." (*) 

It is not clear which memorandum Wadsworth is referring to. Masalha suggests that it 
was one drafted jointly by Ben-Gurion and Rutenberg in May 1937. (^) No such memorandum 
has been traced. However, a letter (not a memorandum) which indeed proposed transfer of 
Arabs to Transjordan, was written jointly by Ben-Gurion and Rutenberg on 7 June. (^) Perhaps 
the intention is to this letter. 

On 11 July 1937, which was just a few days after publication of the Peel Report, a draft 
document entitled: "Re: Partition. Outlines of an Inquiry into the Problems of Exchange of 
Land & Population" was written. The initials of the writer are illegible, but on the top right 
hand corner is written "Mr. [Moshe] Shertok", showing that he received a copy of this 

The subjects dealt with in this document are: "the problem of transfer of population"; 
how the experiences of population transfer in other countries could be applicable to Palestine; 
"voluntary or compulsory exchange of population"; geographical and other information 
required to implement a transfer in Palestine; the procedure of transfer of population. (') 

We can thus see that no time was lost in getting to work in order to advance the Peel 
Report's proposal; to transfer Arabs from Palestine! 

Reactions of American Jewish Press 

/ Masalha, Expulsion of the Palestinians, op. cit., p.58. 

2 / Minutes, Inner Zionist CouncU, 11 February 1937, (p. 295), (CZA S5/293) ; The Diaries of Moshe Sharett, vol.ii, (Tel- 
Aviv, 1971), pp. 16-17. 

3 / Moshe Shertok, Handwritten Diary entry, 23 March 1937, pp.77-78, (CZA A245/2) ; Ibid., pp.90-91. 
* / Moshe Shertok, Diary notes, 12 June 1937, pp.58-59, (CZA A245/6) ; Ibid., pp. 187-88. 

/ Masalha, Expulsion of the Palestinians, op. cit., p.56. 
^ / Ben-Gurion, Memohs, vol.4, pp. 206-07. 

/ Re: Partition. Outlines for an Inquiry into the Problems of Exchange of Land & Population, 11 July 1937, (CZA 

— 197 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

In May 1937, the newspaper "The New Palestine", which was the official organ of the 
American Zionist movement, put forward it own proposal for the transfer of Arabs. In an 
editorial entitled "Why Ignore Transjordan?", the paper wrote that since "Transjordan is 
practically empty of settlers" it could support a large increase in population. This is 
especially so as the soil there is much superior to the soil in Western Palestine. "Transjordan 
could become the natural reserve for the accommodation of tens of thousands of Arabs.... Many 
thousands of Arabs in Palestine would automatically and naturally pass over the Jordan and 
find place for themselves in the Transjordan development." The editorial writer felt that "a 
discussion of this idea might be fruitful of results." {^) According to Medoff, this was the first 
time that "The New Palestine" "went on record as favoring efforts to encourage Arabs to leave 
Palestine." (^) 

A month later, the same paper again came out in favour of Arab transfer. "Perhaps a 
scheme can be worked out for transferring Arabs from the Jewish area to the Arab area." (') 

British Government Reactions to the Peel Report 

On 22 June 1937, the Peel Report was signed and circulated to the various ministerial 
departments. The Private Secretary immediately asked the Foreign Office's Eastern 
Department for its observations. The Report had made recommendations on provisional 
measures to be adopted during the continuation of the Mandate and final recommendations for 
a radical solution. On both these subjects. Sir George William Rendel, Director of the Eastern 
Department of the British Foreign Office, made his observations on the following day. 

He was prepared under the prevailing circumstances to accept partition, but added that 
"this does not mean that the proposals of the Commission, particularly in regard to the 
method of partition, are not open to certain serious criticisms." (*) He then put forward five 
criticisms of the Peel Commission's scheme of partition. These were - the exclusion of the new 
Arab state from any reasonable access to the sea; the allocation to the Jews of the best land; 
the problems arising from corridors; the continued British control over a number of cities in 
northern Palestine; and the incorporation of the new Arab state into Transjordan. (') It is 
apparent that Rendel made no objection whatsoever to the proposal for the transfer of 
population, which was an integral part of the Peel Commission's method of partition. 

Similarly a Foreign Office memorandum of 19 June, 1937 which had made preliminary 
comments and criticisms on the Peel Report, (^) had made no mention of the transfer proposal. 

Rendel's memorandum was passed around the department for the observations of its 
civil servants, which were very positive. "I have no criticism to offer on Mr. Rendel's 
comments with which I agree cordially." (') "Mr. Rendel has done an admirable piece of work 
and I am glad that my first reactions should have been similar to his ..." (^) None of these 
comments made any objection to population transfer. 

Two days later, William Ormsby-Gore, the British Colonial Secretary, produced a 
memorandum for the British Cabinet. He wrote, "It would be difficult in any circumstances for 
His Majesty's Government to advise the rejection of the main argument and essential 
recommendations of a unanimous Royal Commission." Their "penetrating analysis of the 
situation" led him "to accept without hesitation" their "main conclusion that the best hope of 
a permanent solution... lies in the drastic and difficult operation of partition." Ormsby-Gore 
continued, "The particular scheme of partition which is submitted in the Report... appears to 
me to be equitable and well conceived in its main outlines." He added that "modifications of 
detail" might be found necessary and "numerous practical difficulties" might arise, but he 

/ "Why Ignore Transjordan?" The New Palestine, (New York), vol.xxvii, no. 17, 7 May 1937, p.4. 
2 / Medoff, thesis, pp.186-87. 

/ "Palestine Partition and its Implications", The New Palestine, (New York), vol.xxvii, no.21, 4 June 1937, p.5. 

/ Palestine Report, Preliminary departmental comments on the recommendations of the Royal Commission, 23 June 
1937, p.4, (PRO FO 371/20807 E 3427 6029). 
^ / Ibid., pp.4-6. 
^ / Memorandum on Palestine Report, 19 June 1937, (PRO FO 371/20807 E 3330). 

/ Palestine Report, Departmental Comments, 23 June 1937, op. cit., p.2 (un-numbered) of introduction. 

/ Ibid., p.3 (un-numbered) of introduction. 

— 198 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

saw no reason why "given a reasonable measure of consent, these difficulties should not be 
surmounted." (i) Ormsby-Gore concluded by putting forward a draft statement of policy to be 
published simultaneously with the Peel Report. (^) 

Following a request, on 28 June, Rendel presented his comments on Ormsby-Gore's 
memorandum. He wrote that whilst "the principle of partition is right and must be adopted" 
he doubted whether the Foreign office could commit themselves to Ormsby-Gore's statement 
that the proposed scheme of partition could be regarded as "equitable and well conceived." 
He added, "Indeed, the objections to the 'particular scheme of partition' put forward by the 
Commission seem very formidable." He then referred to his earlier memorandum in which his 
objections were listed. (^ ) Later in his memorandum, Rendel suggested amendments to Ormsby- 
Gore's draft "Statement of Policy". (*) 

Simultaneously, with the publication of the Peel Report on 7 July, the British 
Government brought out a "Statement of Policy", which closely resembled the draft written 
by Ormsby-Gore together with some, but by no means all, of the amendments suggested by 
Rendel. This statement began by noting that the Government had considered the unanimous 
Report of the Peel Commission and "find themselves in general agreement with the arguments 
and conclusions of the Commission." (') They felt that Arab and Jewish aspirations could not 
be satisfied under the terms of the present Mandate and that "a scheme of partition on the 
general lines recommended by the Commission represents the best and most hopeful solution of 
the deadlock." ('') Towards the end of this document they stated that "in supporting a solution 
of the Palestine problem by means of partition. His Majesty's Government are much impressed 
by the advantages which it offers both to the Arabs and the Jews." C) 

Insofar as this study is concerned, the relevant point emerging from all the above is that 
neither this "Statement of Policy" of the British Government nor the above quoted documents 
from the Foreign Office and the Colonial Office, make any objections whatsoever to the Peel 
Report recommendation regarding population transfer, compulsory if necessary. This fact is 
particularly important in view of the document published by the British Government less 
than six months later (and described later in this work). 

It is possible that the British Government had also expressed a positive attitude 
towards transfer of the Arabs from Palestine twenty years earlier, at the period of the 
Balfour Declaration. Earlier in this work, we referred to the tribute to Weizmann broadcast 
by the B.B.C. Third Programme at the end of 1963 in which Lord Boothby, a non-Jewish friend 
of Israel and President of the Anglo-Israel Association, stated that the Balfour Declaration 
"was a "watered down' version of a much tougher original draft which would have made 
Palestine a Jewish State outright and moved the Arab population elsewhere "more or less'." 
(*) In consequence of this statement, a lively debate took place in the British Jewish press. 
During the course of this debate, two themes were discernible - Weizmann's own personal 
attitude to transfer and the British Government's attitude at the time, to this question. The 
first we have already dealt with under the heading of the "Attitude of Weizmann towards 
transfer." With regard to the British Government's attitude, a "Jewish Chronicle" Editorial 
described Boothby's "original Balfour Declaration" as a myth. It pointed out that all 
successive versions of this Declaration were on record and nowhere was the removal of Arabs 
contemplated. (') 

Boothby's reply to these criticisms was that he had based himself on the memoirs of Sir 

/ Report of Palestine Royal Commission, Memorandum by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, 25 June 1937, p.2, 
(PRO CAB 24/270 5268 [C. P. 166 (37)]). 
2 / Ibid., pp.4-6. 

/ Palestine Report, Memorandum from Foreign Office (Rendel Minutes), 28 June 1937, p.2 (un-numbered), (PRO FO 
371/20807 E 3531 5268). 

/ Ibid., pp.4-7 (un-numbered). 

/ Palestine, Statement of Policy by His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, Cmd 5513. 

/ Ibid., para.3. 

/ Ibid., para.7. 

/ "Weizmann more formidable than Churchill", Jewish Chronicle, (London), 27 December 1963, p. 11. 

/ Editorial, "Balfour Declaration Myth", Jewish Chronicle, (London), 3 January 1964, p. 7. 

— 199 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Alec Kirkbride, who for decades had served the British Government in Palestine (including 
Transjordan). Kirkbride had written concerning this transfer of Arabs. "At the time of the 
issue of this (Palestine) mandate. His Majesty's Government were too busy setting up a civil 
administration in Palestine proper, west of the river Jordan, to be bothered about the remote 
and undeveloped areas which lay to the east of the river and which were intended to serve as 
a reserve of land for use in the resettlement of Arabs once the National Home for the Jews in 
Palestine, which they were pledged to support, became an accomplished fact." (^) Boothby 
added that Kirkbride had been asked by a friend if he was absolutely certain of these facts, 
since this friend had never seen them documented either in British, Jewish or Arab archives. 
Kirkbride replied that he was "absolutely certain" adding that he thought that it had not 
been documented because "before such a plan was in even the rudimentary stage, the 
Churchill-Abdullah settlement of 1921, which resulted in the formation of the Emirate of 
Transjordan, put an end to it." (^) The identity of this "friend" is not stated, but it is possibly 
Christopher Sykes, who in his book "Cross Roads to Israel" wrote in a footnote that he had 
received a "communication" in this matter from Kirkbride. (') 

In addition to the evidence of Sir Alec Kirkbride, Boothby had based himself on 
numerous conversations he had had with Weizmann, who had been a close personal fiend of 
his. He had also received a letter from Vera Weizmann, the widow of Chaim Weizmann 
confirming the accuracy of his statement in the radio programme. (^) 

In letters to both the "Jewish Chronicle" (') and the "Jewish Observer and Middle East 
Review", Boothby pointed out that by a slip of the tongue, which is easy enough in an 
impromptu and unscripted broadcast, he gave the impression that such a transfer was written 
into the first draft of the Balfour Declaration. What in fact he meant to convey was that 
until the settlement imposed on the Middle East by Churchill in 1921, "Some transfer of 
population was regarded as implicit in, and consequential upon the Balfour Declaration." ('') 

Possible support for Kirkdale's and Boothby's contention can be found in a telegram sent 
by Brigadier-General Gilbert Clayton to the British Foreign Office on 18 November 1918. 
Clayton wrote that "the districts East of the Jordan are thinly populated and their 
development would allow of considerable emigration from Palestine thereby making room for 
Jewish expansion." (') This indicates that this was the line of thought amongst those British 
involved with Palestine at the end of the First World War. [At this period, Clayton was 
Chief Political Officer of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force and also Military Governor of 
O.E.T.A.-South. A few years later, he was appointed Chief Secretary to the Government of 

In January 1964, Jon Kimche, the Editor of the "Jewish Observer and Middle East 
Review" visited the Weizmann Archives. There, the Director, Boris Guriel told him that 
"serious substantiation can be found for Lord Boothby's contention as to the original meaning of 
the Balfour Declaration prior to its final version ... The Arabs were never mentioned in the 
original draft and, by way of omission, the possibility of a transfer became plausible." (^) In a 
letter to the same newspaper, Guriel pointed out that "regardless of whether or not the actual 
draft contained the "transfer' point in letter, it is the spirit and the logical consequence which 
count." (') Kimche observed that after he had "heard the views of Boris Guriel, the able and 
knowledgeable Director of the Weizmann archives in Rehovot, it looked to me as if Lord 
Boothby was right after all in his controversy over the Balfour Declaration." (^°) 

In the course of this correspondence, opposing opinions were expressed by Sir Leon Simon, 

/ Sir Alec Kirkbride, A Crackle of Thorns, (London, 1956), p. 19. 

/ Lord Boothby, Letters to the Editor, lewish Chronicle, (London), 17 January 1964, p. 7. 

/ Sykes, Cross Roads to Israel, op. cit., p.61 fn.l 

/ Lord Boothby, Letters to the Editor, Jewish Observer and Middle East Review, (London), 28 Eebruary 1964, p. 20. 

/ Lord Boothby, Letters to the Editor, Jewish Observer and Middle East Review, (London), 24 January 1964, p. 7. 

/ Boothby, Jewish Observer and Middle East Review, 28 February 1964, op. cit. 
^ / Telegram, Clayton to British Foreign Office, 18 November 1918, p.6, (PRO FO 371/3385 F747/191229). 

/ Boris Guriel, Letters to the Editor, Jewish Observer and Middle East Review, London, 6 March 1964, p.21. 
'* / Ibid., p. 22. 

/ "Was Boothby Right?", Jewish Observer and Middle East Review, (London), 7 February 1964, p.9. 

— 200 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

who had been one of the members of the advisory Pohtical Committee which Weizmann and 
Sokolow had set up early in 1917. This Committee heard reports of discussions with British 
Government representatives and discussed the various drafts of the "Balfour Declaration", 
both those proposed by its own members and those submitted by the Government. Simon stated 
that he could not recollect a word being spoken about transfer of populations, and that "my 
certainty on that point is shared by Mr. Harry Sacher," another member of this Committee. 
(1) In support of his case, Simon (^) quoted from instructions issued by Lord Curzon, British 
Foreign Secretary, and strong anti-Zionist, to the heads of the Palestine Administration. 
"The Arabs will not be despoiled of their land nor required to leave the country." (^) 

Simon did not, however, state the reason for the formulation of these instructions. 
Herbert Samuel, who at that time was Chairman of the Advisory Committee on the Economic 
Development of Palestine, had been asked how the hostility to Zionism in Palestine could 
best be allayed by the administrative authorities on the spot. In his answer, Samuel pointed 
out that this hostility resulted from the fact that the British administrators in Palestine 
were acting towards the Arabs in a way which was not in accord with the Balfour 
Declaration. He concluded that as a result "there would naturally arise among the Arabs a 
feeling of doubt whether the establishment of the Jewish National Home in Palestine is 
really a decided issue, and a tendency to believe that if an agitation were set on foot and a 
threatening attitude adopted on their part, the British Government might well be ready to 
abandon the intentions it had at first announced." To prevent this contingency, Samuel 
proposed that certain instructions be sent by the British Government to the administration in 
Palestine. (^) These were accepted by Curzon, who then incorporated in a despatch the 
identical instructions as formulated by Samuel. 

In conclusion, we might state that during the course of the correspondence in 1964, 
Boothby observed that this resettlement of the Arab population "could, and should, have 
been carried out between thirty and forty years ago by the British Government, on lavish 
lines, when they had both the power and the money to do it." (^) 

Bonne's Menioranduni 

A few days after the publication of the Peel Report, Dr. Alfred Abraham Bonne, an 
economist who had been Director of the Economic Archives for the Near East in Jerusalem 
produced a memorandum, entitled "Outline for an Enquiry into the Problems of Exchange of 
Land and Population." 

He began by explaining that some past population exchanges "had had good results, 
both by removing the latent possibilities of racial and religious strife and by creating new 
possibilities for increased immigration." On the other hand "most of the efforts to settle 
racial controversies in territories of mixed population by agreement were not successful." 
Hence, according to Bonne, the Peel Commission came to the conclusion regarding Palestine 
that "the racial antagonism between Jews and Arabs could only be settled by very radical 
means, i.e. by the exchange of population." ('') 

The Peel Commission Report had quoted as a precedent the Greco-Turkish population 
exchange. Bonne summed up the principles involved in this exchange and then pointed out the 
differences and analogues between the Greco-Turkish exchange and the proposed Jewish- Arab 
population exchange. He concluded that this exchange would "remove definitely the 
antagonism between Jews and Arabs in the new state", but in view of the technical difficulties 
involved, it would have to be carried out energetically with the active support and guidance 

/ Leon Simon, Letters to the Editor, Jewish Observer and Middle East Review, (London), 21 February 1964, p.26. 

/ Leon Simon, Letters to the Editor, Jewish Observer and Middle East Review, (London), 6 March 1964, p.22. 

/ Telegram, Earl Curzon to Colonel French, Foreign Office, London, 4 August 1919, Documents on British Foreign 
Policy, 1919 - 1939, First Series,, 1919, ed. E. L. Woodward and Rohan Butler, (London, 1952), (henceforth BEF), 
* / Herbert Samuel to Sir W. Tyrrell, 5 June ,1919, BEF, pp.283-84. 

/ Boothby, Jewish Chronicle, 17 January 1964, op. clt. 

/A. Bonne, Outline for an Enquiry Into the Problems of Exchange of Land and Population, Jerusalem, July 1937, p.l, 

— 201 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

of the Government together with outside financial help. (^) 

Bonne then discussed the voluntary or compulsory nature of this population exchange. 
He noted that the "fact that the Commissioners themselves have considered a compulsory 
exchange of population entitles the Jewish Agency to examine such a possiblity without the 
fear of being charged with the reproach to have taken the initiative for the evacuation of 
the Arabs." However, he felt that the easiest solution would be for the Arabs themselves to 
agree to a voluntary exchange of population since a compulsory exchange would "lead to grave 
attacks on Zionism and would endanger the position of Jews in the Diaspora." Bonne wrote 
that it would be difficult to imagine the Zionist Movement, whose aim was to create a home 
for a landless people, being instrumental in the expulsion of an Arab people against its will. 
Were the Zionists to contemplate such an evacuation, the consequences would be very grave. 

However, Bonne recognised the fate of the proposed Jewish State entiely dependent on 
this exchange of population and that it was therefore necessary "to find a formula which is 
acceptable to the Arabs by not having the character of a compulsory expulsion, and which 
will nevertheless lead to the evacuation of the country by the Arabs." Since he was certain 
that the Arabs would not agree to a voluntary transfer, he considered that the problem of 
their evacuation should become part of a greater scheme such as, "The Reform of the 
Agricultural Situation in the Two New States". Bonne proposed that the best way to 
implement this would be by a "Mixed Commission", whose composition included neutral 
experts and which would be attached to the League of Nations. Such a Commission might 
"without to much stressing the point of 'Compulsory Evacuation', positively formulate its 
programme, say, 'Achievement of a Great Agricultural Reform in Both States by the 
Resettlement of the Arab Population in the New Arab State, Development of New Water 
Sources, Draining of Swamps, Rounding Off and Partition of Musha'a Lands, etc.'" He added 
that if after thoroughly investigating the feasibility of the scheme it was found to be 
workable, "it could claim to eliminate the disadvantages of compulsory evacuation without 
foregoing its advantages." C) 

Bonne's memorandum then discussed the statistical and technical details of such a 
transfer, including the size of the Arab population to be evacuated, its vocational 
distribution, the area of the Arab owned land in the proposed Jewish State which would 
have to be purchased, and the finance involved in such a transfer. (*) 

Because of his expertise in this subject. Bonne was assigned various duties regarding the 
proposal for the transfer of Arabs from Palestine. These are to found in a document headed 
"Distribution of Duties". This document, which is undated, seems to have been written 
between the time of the publication of the Peel Report (early July 1937) and the start of the 
20th Zionist Congress (early August 1937). 

Amongst those listed "for the [20th Zionist] Congress" are Dr. Bonne, whose duty was 
concerned with the "Transfer of Arab Residents from the Jewish Area to the Arab Area". His 
name was also listed "for Negotiations with the British Government and the League of 
Nations" on the question of "Transfer of Land and Population". (^) 

Reference was made to Bonne's memorandum in a memorandum brought out at the same 
period by Dr. H. Oppenheimer. In it he commented, "It has often been said that the 
evacuation scheme proposed by the Royal Commission is incompatible with their demand for 
the protection of minorities." To resolve this conflict, Oppenheimer considered that one would 
have to distinguish between two periods: the transition period, namely the period whilst the 
Arabs were being transferred, and the period which followed after. During this transition 
period "the methods of protecting the minorities have to be adapted to the requirements of 
the evacuation scheme." Only after completion of the transfer, would the Arabs remaining in 

' / Ibid., pp.1-3. 

2 / Ibid., p.3. 

3 / Ibid., pp.3-4. 
^ I Ibid., pp.4-9. 

^ / Halukat haTafkidim (Distribution of Duties), undated, (CZA S25/10109). 

— 202 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Palestine "enjoy full protection of their rights." (^ ) 

Mapai Central Committee 

At a meeting held between Ben-Gurion, Weizmann and the British Colonial Secretary, 
Ormsby-Gore on 28 June 1937, Weizmann requested that he and his friends be given a copy of 
the Peel Report before the official publication date. Ormsby-Gore agreed that this matter 
would be raised at a meeting to be held in two days time. (^) 

On 1 July, Blanche Dugdale wrote in her diary, "Went to Zionist office and found Chaim 
(Weizmann) raging, after a telephone talk with Boyd (Ormsby-Gore's secretary) in which he 
learned he was not to get the Report till Monday (5 July) - i.e. three days before publication. I 
have never seen him so angry." (^) We also know from her diary that by Friday, 2 July, 
Shertok knew the contents of the Peel Report. C) However Baffy did not state from where 
Shertok got his "pre-publication" information on the contents of the Peel Report, but it could 
well have been from Weizmann. A few days earlier (29 June), Weizmann, who by then had 
elicited from various sources information on many of the points made in the Peel Report, wrote 
a confidential letter to Stephen Wise. In this letter he listed these points and in connection 
with the transfer proposal, Weizmann wrote: "Something in the way of an exchange of 
populations - or perhaps more correctly of territories." (') 

On 5 July - two days before the publication of the Report - the Mapai Central Committee 
met. ["Mapai" - an acronym for Mifleget Poale Eretz Israel - the Palestine Workers' Party, 
was founded in 1930 by the amalgamation of several labour groups, as a Zionist-Socialist 
party faithful to the ideal of national redemption and socialism in the homeland. It 
immediately became the dominant party of the Jewish Community in Palestine.] 

At the Mapai meeting on 5 July, Shertok gave a summary of the Peel Report, including 
the section on the population exchange proposal. He reported that the Commission had 
presented the exchange proposal very forcefully. "They say: At first glance, this appears to 
be a very bold thing, but the question before us is such that it requires a bold solution." 

However, as Shertok pointed out, although the Commission put forward its proposal as 
an "Exchange of Population", the unequal numbers of Arabs and Jews involved by this 
"exchange" meant that the stress would inevitably be on a "compulsory transfer" of Arabs. He 
added, however, that the Peel Commission did not state this specifically but "hoped" that 
the Arab and Jewish leaders would themselves come to an understanding on this matter. (^) 

Shertok's summary was followed by a discussion. However, only two speakers - Chaim 
Shorer and Yitzchak Ben-Zvi - referred to the recommendation on population transfer. Shorer 
felt "there was no real value to be placed on the chances of transferring the Arabs to 
Transjordan, because they would not wish to leave a Jewish Palestine of their own freewill, 
and we are not going to transfer them by force." (') 

Yitzchak Ben-Zvi, a founder of Mapai and later the second President of the State of 
Israel, commented in passing on this proposal, "Obviously there are great difficulties 
attached to the partition plan, for example the difficulty in transferring 100,000 Arabs from 
the Galilean mountains." (*) 

The Mapai Central Committee was divided over the Peel Commission proposals, but 
decided to accept the principle of partition. 

Further comments on transfer of Arabs were made by several speakers at a Mapai 
Council meeting held between 9-11 July 1937, which was a few days after the official 
publication of the Peel Report. 

/ H. Oppenheimer, Memorandum, The Economic Position of ttie Arab Minority in the Proposed Jewish State, July 
1937, pp.1-2, (CZA S25/8127). 
" / Note of Conversation with Ormsby-Gore, 28 June 1937, pp.4-5, (WA). 

/ Baffy, op. cit., p.48. 

/ Ibid., p.49. 

/ Weizmann to Wise, 29 June 1937, p.2, (American Jewish Historical Society, Stephen Wise Papers, Box 122). 

/ Minutes of Mapai Central Committee, 5 July 1937, pp.7-8, (Mapai, file 23/37, vol.2). 

/ Ibid., p.l2. 

/ Ibid., p. 13. 

— 203 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Amongst the speakers at this meeting was Yitzchak Tabenkin, who whilst stating that 
the Mapai Party should not press for a decision supporting the transfer of "tens of thousands of 
Arabs", added that "if the Arabs were to agree and we would be able to transfer them, I would 
not rebel against this". However, he said that he was against the establishment of a Jewish 
State if it involved the compulsory transfer of Arabs. (^) Hence we see that Tabenkin was 
prepared to accept voluntary transfer of Arabs whilst strongly opposing compulsory transfer. 

Berl Katznelson spoke at some length on the question of Arab transfer. He said that this 
proposal in the Peel Report would do a great service to the Zionist cause were it to be 
implemented but were it not to be implemented it could be dangerous. He pointed out that 
there was a saying that there are things that one should always think about, but should 
never speak about. This saying was appropriate to the question of Arab transfer. He reminded 
the meeting that he had said at the time of the Arab pogroms that one needed to find all sorts 
of political solutions regarding the Arab question and "I told myself: The historical solution 
will be population exchange." Katznelson knew that there were Arab countries neighbouring 
Palestine who needed money and an increase in population, but to speak about it would be 
harmful and could lead to the Arabs rebelling. He observed that the British were talking of 
Arab transfer, and he asked whether they had a plan for implementation; whether in fact 
there could there be such a plan and whether it could be implemented. If not why were the 
British talking about it?! (^) 

Israel Idelson, a leading member of the Kibbutz HaMe'uchad movement, spoke about 
the demographic problem in Palestine and pointed out that no-one at that meeting could 
possibly believe that it would be possible within the near future to implement what the Peel 
Commission had proposed regarding Arab transfer. The Arabs would not transfer voluntarily - 
it was not in their interests to move to Transjordan or Beersheba. Regarding compulsory 
transfer, Idelson queried whether it was implementable or desirable? Moshe Shertok then 
interjected: "The compulsion comes after the agreement." Idelson agreed with Shertok and 
drew the parallel with the Greco-Turkish transfer, adding however, that the reason for 
Greece's agreement to compulsory transfer was that she knew that if her nationals did not 
transfer from Turkey, they would remain under an oppressive regime. It was the reality of the 
situation which forced Greece to agree to the transfer. (^) 

Another speaker who brought up the question of transfer was Yitzchak Wilkansky 
(Elazari-Volcani), an agronomist who was one of the founders of the Institute for Agricultural 
Studies in Rehovot. He reminded the meeting that in the past when the Zionists had bought 
tracts of land, it was called "expulsion" and "now the mouth that forbade is the one which 
permits and speaks of population transfer. I think that we need to hold on to this paragraph 
even more than [demanding] extending the borders [of the proposed Jewish State]. This 
paragraph is the most important one for us and we should not be over-pious and righteous at a 
time when the Righteous Gentiles of the World, are in fact giving us permission". Wilkansky 
felt that implementing such transfer would not be easy "but this paragraph is very important 
and is worth more than two million dunams [of land]." (*) 

These were not the first occasions that the various forums of the Mapai party had 
debated the question of possible partition and Arab transfer from Palestine. At a meeting of 
the Mapai Central Committee held five months earlier at the beginning of February, these 
questions had been discussed. The Peel Commission had just finished taking evidence in 
Palestine and Ben-Gurion attempted on the basis of its questions and comments, to forcast its 
recommendations. After putting forward a number of possibilities, he suggested that the Jews 
should be prepared for a radical solution of the problem, such as the establishment of two 
states, Jewish and Arab, in Palestine. The Commission was already thinking on these lines 
and it had also previously been suggested by Sir Stafford Cripps, a prominent member of the 
British Labour Party. After discussing the minimum practical area for the Jewish State, Ben- 

/ Minutes of Meeting of Mapai Council, 9-11 July 1937, address by Tabenkin, p. 17, (Mapai Archives). 

/ Ibid., address by Katznelson, p.24, (Mapai Archives). 

/ Ibid., address by Idelson, pp.4-5, (Mapai Archives). 

/ Ibid., address by Wilkansky, pp. 12-13, (Mapai Archives). 

— 204 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Gurion pointed out that there would be three hundred thousand Arabs within its borders 
which could result in a serious rebellion by the Arabs. 

In the discussion which followed, Shertok said that such a partition plan was "filled 
with difficulties and explosive". He referred to the three hundred thousand Arabs who 
would find themselves under a Jewish Government. "It won't be easy to make a population 
exchange", said Shertok, "It won't be an easy thing to remove the Arabs of Bet Dagon and 
Zarnuga from their houses and orchards, and resettle them in the Huleh. And if (the 
Commission) really want to remove the Arab population by force, it will undoubtedly lead to 
bloodshed on such a scale that the present (Arab) rebellion in Palestine will in comparison 
fade into insignificance." He felt that population transfer could not be implemented, "at least 
during the transition period" without British might and he was doubtful whether the British 
would have the courage to defend militarily the building of a Jewish National Home. O 

Shertok's opinion regarding the impracticability of the transfer of the Arabs from 
Palestine came up again in a conversation in London during the following month with a few 
colleagues, including Weizmann, Namier and Blanche Dugdale, who were voicing their 
opinions regarding the possible partition of Palestine. Shertok considered the partition plan 
as compared with other possibilities to be acceptable, but he felt that a major difficulty 
would be the question of defence. He added that population transfer was out of the question, 
since the Arabs in the Jewish State would not be prepared to exchange their orchards for land 
in Transjordan. {^) 

Just over a month later at a meeting of the Zionist General Council held in Jerusalem on 
22 April, the question of the Arabs in the proposed Jewish State came up. Shertok repeated 
his objections to the transfer of population which he felt was a "false attraction and a 
harmful idea." Again he queried the likelihood of any Arab being prepared to exchange land 
and asked what the proposed exchange would involve, adding that such a plan could lead to 
bloodshed. He also discounted the parallel with the Greco-Turkish population exchange, 
where he maintained the conditions were completely different, although he declined to 
itimise the differences. However, Shertok did qualify his statement with regard to the 
"distant" future. He said that he was prepared to see as a future possibility "the exchange of 
population on a more decisive scale and over a much greater area." (') 

Shertok's view that transfer might be possible in the future came up again at a meeting 
of the Jewish Agency Executive in London at the beginning of 1943. Namier said that "transfer 
was the most essential thing" although he realised its difficulties especially concerning 
moving the peasants. To this Shertok replied that transfer could only come about by 
agreement. He did not envisage that such an agreement would be achieved prior to the 
creation of a Jewish State or of large-scale Jewish immigration though they "would work for 
such an agreement." Shertok said that British experts believed that the Arabs would become 
reconciled to a Jewish State once it had been established and that it was "then that transfer 
might become a possibility" but he did not think the two things would come about 

In answer to a query as to whether "the question of transfer should be a matter for 
discussion amongst themselves or in public", Shertok replied that he "would not raise it in 
public, but of course, if someone were to raise it at a meeting", he would reply to it. Namier 
felt that the "whole question of transfer would be discussed on a much larger scale" after the 
termination of the Second World War and said that he had been told that "the question of 
transfer was gaining ground among statesmen." Whereupon Shertok answered , "If transfer on 
a large-scale were to come into question, then naturally (we) could bring in (our) own 
comparatively small problem." {'•) 

Council of "World Unity" 

^ / Minutes of Mapai Central Committee, 5 - 6 February 1937, pp. 11-12, (Mapai, fUe 23/37, vol.2). 

/ Diaries of Sharett, vol.ii, op. cit., p. 70. 
3 / Minutes of Zionist General Council, Jerusalem, 22 April 1937, pp.9-10, (CZA S5 277/1). 
* / Minutes, J. A. Exec, London, 16 January 1943, p.5, (CZA Z4/302/26). 

— 205 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

From the beginning of the twentieth century, a number of Zionist sociahst parties of 
differing shades of ideology had been formed in the Diaspora, and during the course of the 
subsequent decades these underwent a number of sphts and amalgamations. In 1932, at a 
meeting in Danzig, most of these Zionist socialist parties amalgamated to form "World 
Unity" (Ihud Olami). 

Immediately before the 1937 Zionist Congress, "World Unity" held its own conference in 
Zurich and on the evening of 29 July 1937, Ben-Gurion delivered the opening lecture. During 
the course of this lecture, he spoke at length on the Peel transfer proposal, giving it his full 
support. He listed what he saw to be the advantages of the Peel recommendations including 
the fact that "The Arabs dwelling in these plains will be removed and transferred to the 
Arab State." (^) He praised the Commission for proposing by this transfer (if necessary 
compulsory), to compensate for the small territorial area of the designated Jewish State, thus 
providing opportunity for increased Jewish settlement. He then claimed that using Jewish 
agricultural methods it would be possible to replace each Arab family by at least five Jewish 

However, "The Commission does not suggest removal of the Arabs, it suggests 
transferring them and settling them in the Arab State. I think", said Ben-Gurion, "that I do 
not need to explain the fundamental difference between removal and transference." 

Ben-Gurion continued, "Up to now we have implemented our settlement in Palestine by 
means of transfer of the (Arab) population from location to location... only in a few cases of our 
new settlement was it not necessary to transfer the former inhabitants." Was such transfer of 
Arabs on a voluntary basis or was compulsion used? Ben-Gurion said, "In most cases the 
transfer was arranged by agreement with the tenant farmers and only in a minority of cases 
was a compulsory transfer necessary." It would seem that the tenant farmers were first given 
an opportunity to come to an arrangement with the Jewish settlers. Failing such an 
arrangement, compulsion was used. 

Ben-Gurion did not consider that there was anything wrong with such transfers. "If it is 
possible to transfer the Arabs from one village to another within the area of the British 
Mandate - it will be difficult to find any political or ethical reason against transferring these 
Arabs from an area under Jewish rule." 

As is evident from our earlier quotation, Ben-Gurion considered that there was a 
fundamental difference between removal and transference. He added that the Jews would not 
be able to agree to a transfer, even if suggested and implemented by the British, were it to 
involve removal. He defined "removal" as "the destruction of the financial basis of the 
transferees." He said however, that even with the highest ethical standards, one could not 
oppose a transfer which guaranteed the transferees "sufficient material conditions" and 
"maximum national security". These were the conditions which the Peel Commission 

Ben-Gurion concluded that by this transfer the Arabs would obtain "full and complete 
satisfaction of their national desires." If this transfer were to guarantee the Arabs physical 
living conditions which were no worse than those obtaining (and only under such conditions 
would transfer, according to Ben-Gurion, be possible), then their financial and personal rights 
would in no way be affected." (^) 

At the subsequent debate, nearly twenty speakers referred to this transfer proposal. Berl 
Katznelson, who was a strong opponent of partition, came out strongly in favour of transferring 
the Arabs from Palestine. On the morality of transfer, he said, "My conscience is completely 
clear. A distant neighbour is better than a close enemy. They will not lose by their transfer 
and we certainly will not. In the final analysis, it is a political reform of benefit to both sides. 
For a long time, I have been convinced that this is the best solution and during the time of the 
troubles, I was strengthened in my conviction that this must happen one of these days." 
Katznelson was disappointed by the Peel Commission's recommendation that the Arabs be 
transferred to areas of the proposed Arab State within Palestine. "I did not imagine", he 

/ Al Darcei M'dinateinu, (Tel-Aviv, 1938), p.61. 

2 / Ibid., pp.72-73. 

— 206 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

continued, "that the transfer 'to outside Palestine' would mean the area of Shechem (Nablus). 
I believed and still believe that their future lies in Syria and Iraq." (i) According to the 
historian Yosef Gorny, Katznelson's strong endorsement of transfer was also made in a private 
conversation with Ahuvia Malkin. (^) 

Aharon Zisling, a leader of the Kibbutz HaMe'uhad movement and member of the 
original Ahdut Ha'avodah party, like Katznelson opposed partition. He said, "I do not 
dispute our moral right to the transfer proposal. There is absolutely no ethical objection to 
this suggestion, which will have the effect of stimulating the development of national life." 
He added that this could turn out to be a most humane inspiration. (^) 

Eliezer Kaplan, a founder of Ze'irei Zion in Russia and treasurer of the Jewish Agency 
Executive discounted any comparison with the expulsion of Jews from Germany. "Here we are 
not speaking of expulsion but of an organised transfer of a number of Arabs from an area within 
the Jewish State to another place within the Arab State, i.e. to their own national 
environment, and we want to ensure that the conditions there will be, at the least, no worse 
than their previous conditions." (^) 

Eliahu Lulu, a public worker in Mapai, was a supporter of partition. He refuted the idea 
that transfer would be political provocation. "It is a just and reasonable plan, ethical and 
humane in all senses." He pointed out that in exchange for the land in Palestine which an 
Arab transferee would have to sell, he .would be able to purchase plots in Iraq, causing what 
had once been a prosperous land to flourish again, as a result of Arab immigration. Even 
should it be compulsory. Lulu had no doubts that transfer was justified. "If we oppose all 
rights to transfer, then we must oppose what we have achieved up to now - the transfers from 
Emek Hefer to the Bet Shean valley, from the Sharon to the mountains of Ephraim etc." (^) 

Golda Myerson (later Golda Myer, Prime Minister of the State of Israel) said, "I would 
agree that the Arabs leave Palestine and my conscience would be perfectly clear", but she 
questioned the possibility of such a transfer. If the Arabs remained, however, they would 
have to be guaranteed equal rights. (^) 

Joseph Bankover, a member of Ahdut Ha'avodah and a founder of Kibbutz Ramat 
Hacovesh said, regarding compulsory transfer, "As a member of (Kibbutz) Ramat Hacovesh, I 
would be very happy, were it possible to free ourselves of our pleasant (Arab) neighbours of 
Kfar Miski, Tirah and Kalkiliya." However, like Golda Myerson, Bankover questioned the 
feasibility of transfer. He said that he had not been able to find any firm committment to 
compulsory transfer in the Peel Report. C) 

David Remez, one of the leaders of the Histadrut Labour Union said that he had little 
faith in population transfers "although this solution is completely ethical and just." Since 
the conditions of the Arabs would be incomparably better in the Jewish State than in the Arab 
State, Remez did not think that the Arabs would move voluntarily and he doubted whether 
there was anyone who would force them to move. (*) 

Shlomo Lavi, an enthusiastic supporter of partition said that the demand that the 
Arabs move out of Palestine because they had many other Arab Homelands, whereas the Jews 
had no other National Home, was "very just and very ethical." However, in reality, this 
could not be put before the world as a serious claim. (*) 

Hayim Greenberg, a leader of the Zionist labour movement in America said that he had 
not found in the Peel Report anything about England's implementing the transfer of the Arabs. 
This he thought was good, since England was intending to implement a compulsory transfer. 

' / Ibid., pp.179-80. 

/ Yosef Gorny, The Arab Question and the Jewish Problem, (Tel- Aviv, 1985), p.433 ; Yosef Gorny, Zionism and the 
Arabs 1882-1948, (Oxford, 1987), p.259 fn.40. 

/ Al Darcei M'dinateinu, op. cit., p. 116. 
* / Ibid., p.82. 
^ / Ibid., p.l22. 
^ / Ibid., p.l23. 
7 / Ibid., pp.93-94. 
^ / Ibid., p. 168. 
'* / Ibid., p.lOO. 

— 207 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

He explained that it was not a question of ethics - "one could find an ethical authorisation" - 
but it would be dangerous for the Jews of Poland, Germany etc. (^) The next speaker, Dov Hos, a 
representative of the Histadrut and Mapai in London, said that on the question of transfer he 
was closer to the views of Greenberg than to Ben-Gurion. (^) 

Israel Idelson (Bar-Yehudah), a leading member of the Kibbutz HaMe'uhad movement 
was also worried about the effect compulsory transfer might have upon the safety of Jews 
living in the Diaspora. He doubted whether the Arabs would agree to move out of Palestine 
voluntarily, since they were confident that no harm would come to them should they remain, 
and he rejected the use of force, as Jews in the neighbouring Arab countries would be hostages 
to the Arabs' displeasure. (^) 

Dr. Aryeh Tartakover, a member of the Zionist labour movement in Poland, and author 
of the book "A History of the Jewish Labour Movement", asked whether establishing a 
principle that a state should be free from minorities might not be used against the Jews in the 
surrounding Arab States to prevent them from living there. He suggested that this was "too 
great a price to pay in order to get rid of only a few tens of thousands of Arabs from the Jewish 
State, (because we would certainly not get rid of more than that)". (^) [The words in 
parenthesis are Tartakover's.] [One might ask here, whether, if it had been possible to 
remove the quarter of a million or so Arabs then living in Palestine from the Jewish State, 
Tartakover would have been prepared to pay the price?] 

Berl Locker pointed out that the transfer proposal depended on so many premises, such 
as the finding of suitable land, and Arab agreement, that he was in great doubt whether in 
fact it would be possible. (^) Another delegate who questioned its feasibility was Chaim 
Shorer, one of the few former members of "Hapoel Hazair" who opposed partition. Shorer 
spoke of the "illusion of the transfer of Arabs from our borders." (^) 

A similar line was taken by Shlomo Kaplanski, a founder of the World Union of Poale 
Zion, (and in the ealy 1940s Chairman of a committee on Jewish-Arab Relations). Kaplanski 
opposed the partition scheme preferring a bi-national state. He did not believe that it would 
be possible to transfer twenty thousand Arab families, who had lived in the plains for 
generations, to another part of Palestine. He said that he would not enter into the ethical 
side of the question. If a Jewish State were to be established in part of Palestine, it would be 
necessary to live in peace and harmony with the "Arab part of Palestine and with all the 
neighbouring countries." (') 

Avraham Hirshfeld was critical of Ben-Gurion's attitude towards transfer, describing it 
as fantasy. "Transfer does not come into consideration", said Hirshfeld. He pointed out that 
the Arabs would not move from areas such as Acre, Safed and Metulla where ther were large 
concentrations of Arabs. (*) 

Strong opposition to the transfer proposal was voiced by the Labour ideologist, 
Yitzchak Tabenkin, who described it as "a wild and un-ethical idea." He said that it was 
easy for the English to spread such slogans about, but that the Jews should not base their 
political aspirations on the removal of two hundred thousand Arabs from their villages and 
cities. Most of the Arabs would in any case not agree to move and such a transfer could 
completely poison relations with neighbouring countries and cause harm to world Jewry. It 
could also close the door on constructive meetings with the Arabs. (') However, as we see 
elsewhere in this work, at the same period, in his speeches to the 20th Zionist Congress and to 
a Mapai Council Meeting, Tabenkin agreed to the idea of a voluntary transfer and such 
agreement of his continued into the 1940s. 

^ / Ibid., p. 126. 

2 / Ibid., p.l28. 

3 / Ibid., pp.106-07. 
* / Ibid., p.l32. 

5 / Ibid., p.l33. 
^ / Ibid., p.l46. 
7 / Ibid., p.91. 
^ / Ibid., p.l96. 
'* / Ibid., pp. 191-92. 

— 208 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Shmuel Yavne'eli, who had, a quarter of a century earher, gone to Yemen in order to 
encourage the Jewish community to emigrate to Palestine, said that he did not consider it 
necessary to implement the forcible transfer of the Arabs from Palestine. {^) Opposition to 
transfer also came from Ze'ev Feinstein, a worker in Ahdut Ha'avodah and a founder of 
Kibbutz Ayelet Hashahar. He said that there were a million Arabs in Palestine who must 
remain there. "We do not want to expel a single Arab... we have developed without 
expulsion." (^) 

As we have seen, many if not most of the speakers at this conference, all of them 
members of the Zionist labour movement, were in favour of transfer - although some felt that 
it was impossible in practice - whilst only a few came out against transfer. The division of 
opinion on this question, did not follow the pattern of the division on the question of partition 
of the country. There were delegates such as Katznelson and Zisling, who opposed partition, 
yet were in favour of transferring the Arabs. 

In his book, "Partition of Eretz-Israel in Mandatory Period", Shmuel Dothan, concluded 
from the proceedings of this Conference that "this transfer question was shown in a new light. 
No longer did the apologists try to prove that the Arabs had never been removed from their 
land, but more honestly denied that there was anything wrong with such removal. The 
transfer of Arabs from the Jewish area to an Arab State was not a sin, but an ethical act which 
would benefit both Jews and Arabs alike." (^) 

British Parliamentary Debates 

The British Parliament has two chambers. The upper Chamber, known as the House of 
Lords, in 1937 consisted mainly of hereditary lords temporal and non-hereditary lords 
spiritual. The lower Chamber, the House of Commons, in 1937 had 640 members elected by 
popular franchise, each member representing a specific constituency of the United Kingdom. 

On 20 and 21 July 1937, both Houses of Parliament debated the recommendations of the 
Peel Commission. In the Parliamentary Reports on both these debates, only a few scattered 
paragraphs dealt with the question of the transfer of population. Many of the speakers did 
not mention transfer at all. 

The debate in the House of the Lords began on the 20 July and was adjourned to 21 July. 
Early speakers in this debate were Lord Peel, Chairman of the Peel Commission, and the 
Marquess of Dufferin and Ava, who was the Deputy Colonial Secretary. However, neither of 
these speakers specifically mentioned the subject of population transfer. 

The first speaker to mention transfer was Viscount Samuel (Herbert Samuel). In the 
period leading up to the Balfour Declaration, Herbert Samuel, a Jew, played an important 
role in the preliminary behind-the-scene activities, constantly guiding the Zionist leaders. 
Weizmann described him as "discreet, tactful and insistent." When the British were granted 
the Mandate over Palestine, Samuel, was appointed as the First High Commissioner and 
served between the years 1920-25. During the early part of his term of office, he laid the 
foundations of the Palestine civil administration and gave official recognition to the Jewish 
representative bodies. However, later in his term of office, he made efforts to appease Arab 
anti-Zionism and restricted Jewish immigration into Palestine. 

In his speech to the House of Lords, Samuel came out against the partition proposal. 
This caused anger not only in the Zionist community, but also in the ranks of the British 
Government, who had gradually been persuaded to accept the idea of partition. Samuel was 
extremely scathing in his criticism of the recommendation of the Peel Commission concerning 
the transfer of population. "The Commission say there ought to be a removal of population, or 
what is called strangely enough, an exchange of population, that the Jews from the Arab 
State should be brought into the Jewish State and the Arabs in the Jewish State should be 
transferred. But how can you have an exchange of population where there are 225,000 Arabs in 
the Jewish State and 250,000 Jews in the other?" 

1 / Ibid., p. 135. 

2 / Ibid., p. 136. 
/ Shmuel Dothan, Partition of Eretz-Israel in Mandatory Period, (lerusalem, 1979), p. 153. 

— 209 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Samuel then referred to the Peel Commission's approval of the way the Greco-Turkish 
exchange of population was carried out. It was "quite true", said Samuel, that "it was 
admirably done". But he believed that the circumstances surrounding this Greco- Turkish 
transfer were completely different - the Greeks were fleeing from Asia Minor after their 
disastrous campaign, their armed forces heavily defeated. 

"There is nothing of that kind in Palestine," said Samuel. "There is nothing of that sort 
to induce 225,000 Arabs to leave the land in which they and their fathers have been settled 
for a thousand years where they have their mosques and where they have their graveyards." 

Samuel objected to the proposal "that the new Jewish State should be built upon the 
basis of taking away 100,000 Arabs, or whatever the number may be, from this district, 
compulsorily dispossessing them, no doubt with compensation and finding them land 

We might again point out here that the Peel Report mentioned that when the Nobel 
Peace Prizewinner, Dr. Nansen, had first proposed the compulsory Greco-Turkish population 
transfer, he had been sharply criticised for the "inhumanity of his proposal." However, the 
Commission considered that the success of the transfer had fully justified the apparent 

Samuel noted that another part of the report referred to the protection of minorities and 
asked whether the protection offered to the Arab minority would take the form of the 
compulsory uprooting and relocation elsewhere. In fact, paragraph 39 of Chapter xxii of the 
Peel Report states that the whole purpose of the proposal for the transfer of population was 
to protect minorities. The emergence of nationalism as a force after the First World War, was 
endangering minorities in Europe and Asia including Palestine. However, Samuel questioned 
whether it would be possible to relieve the large disparity between the size of the Jewish and 
Arab populations in "the so-called Jewish State" by means of a transfer such as that 
advocated in the Peel Report. (^) 

Lord Melchett, who was at the time Chairman of the Jewish Agency Commission, 
supported the transfer of population. Unlike Samuel, Melchett accepted the parallel of the 
Greco-Turkish transfer and added that he often quoted it himself, and often pointed out that 
it showed an example of how the Jewish population of Eastern Europe might be transferred to 
the Middle East. He believed in the feasibility of the Arab-Jewish transfer, but was sceptical 
of the British Government's intentions. He asked, "Do the Government really seriously intend 
to pursue the transfer? What are its real intentions in that matter?" (^) 

Lord Lugard, British Member of the Mandates Commission hoped that, since the 
transfer would be attended with great difficulty and would take a great deal of time, the 
existing Mandate would continue in operation until the successful completion of the transfer 
was in sight. (^) [In the case of the Greco-Turkish transfer it had taken about eight years to 
resolve all the problems.] 

A few days before this debate. Lord Lugard had met with Weizmann. Although there is 
no minute on this meeting in the Weizmann Archives, it is referred to in a letter written by 
Weizmann to Lord Hailey on 18 July. (^) On the day of the meeting, Weizmann reported to 
Ben-Gurion, who wrote in his diary, "Lugard favours the transfer of Arabs and is of the 
opinion that the Government is able and is obligated to put it into operation." (') 
Incidentally, from Weizmann's letter to Lord Hailey, it would appear that the meeting took 
place on 18 July, whereas from Ben-Gurion's diary the date is given as 17 July. Needless to say, 
this small discrepancy does not affect the reported contents of the meeting. 

One of the speakers during the debate was the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most 
Reverend Cosmo Gordon Lang. The Archbishop supported partition and advised the Lords to 
"trust the judgment of the Commission" and give "at least a most favourable consideration to 

/ Parliamentary Debates, Lords, vol.106, (henceforth Lords), 20 July 1937, cols. 634-35. 

2 / Ibid., col.660. 

3 / Ibid., col.669. 

/ Weizmann Letters, vol. xviii, op. cit., no. 155, p. 166. 

/ David Ben-Gurion, Handwritten Diary entry 17 July 1937, (BGA) ; Ben-Gurion, Memoirs, vol.4, op. cit. p.302. 

— 210 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

their verdict." He fervently hoped that it would bring about an Arab-Jewish reconciliation in 
a country where peace and goodwill should prevail, (i) Nowhere in his speech did the 
Archbishop mention the proposal for population transfer. One would have assumed that had 
he considered it to be in any way unethical, he would have broached the subject. 

The debate in the House of Commons took place on 21 July and continued for nearly eight 
and a half hours. It was opened by the Colonial Secretary, William Ormsby-Gore who 
supported the transfer of population. He indicated the need for a series of fact-finding 
inquiries to ascertain where and how many Arabs could be settled in Transjordan and 
elsewhere in Palestine, "if there is to be a scheme of transfer, and obviously a scheme of 
transfer is most desirable." (^) In requiring these "fact— finding inquiries", Ormsby-Gore was 
repeating a recommendation of the Peel Commission which called for an immediate survey 
and authoritative estimate of the practical possibilities of irrigation and development in the 
areas of Transjordan, the Jordan Valley and Beersheba. 

Support for the transfer proposal was also voiced by Earl Edward Winterton, a 
Conservative member of over thirty years standing, who had served in Gallipoli and 
Palestine during the First World War and was afterwards Under-Secretary of State for India. 
It is of interest to note that although Winterton was an anti-Zionist and a leading supporter 
of the Arabs, he supported the population transfer proposal of the Peel Commission. Several 
months earlier, Winterton had suggested that Palestine be divided in such a way that 
Western Palestine up to the Jordan would be a Jewish State and Transjordan an Arab State. 
This was conditional on the British Government's investing very large sums of money in the 
development of Transjordan and the Arabs in the Jewish State (of Western Palestine) being 
given the choice of remaining or moving to Transjordan. (^) 

In his speech to the House of Commons, Winterton said "The question of transfer is still 
in a very tentative state but I should hope that no one on either side of the House would say 
that the scheme is a bad one." He commended the "very satisfactory transfer of minorities" in 
the Greco-Turkish population exchange and hoped that "something of the same kind could be 
done in Palestine, and that it might lead to a solution of the minorities question." He 
recommended that population transfer be carefully considered in the greatest detail by the 
Mandates Commission. (*) A few weeks later, the Permanent Mandates Commission sitting in 
Geneva did fully consider this subject and also questioned Ormsby-Gore concerning the British 
Government's intentions regarding the proposed transfer of population. 

Sir Arnold Wilson, a Conservative member with a long record of support for fascist 
regimes in Germany and Italy, who had spent nineteen years in Arabic-speaking countries 
said that he believed in, the inevitability of partition and saw in it a better prospect of 
justice for both Arabs and Jews than one could hope to obtain by the "present state of an 
indissoluble marriage of incompatible spouses." (^) He considered that it was possible to get 
men of good will to work together under the auspices of a third party and was confident that 
"in the long run, provided we do not attempt a compulsory transfer of population, the thing 
will work." 

Stating that there were 260,000 Arabs and 2000 Jews to be transferred, Wilson added 
that the Jews should give the fullest assurances to the Arabs who wished to remain in the 
Jewish State. He believed that many Arabs would stay since nationalism had not reached the 
point where they would willingly leave their ancestral lands. In a similar vein, Wilson said 
that the Arabs should give the fullest assurances to the many Jews who, he believed, would 
wish to remain in the Arab State. He believed that "population makes work and work makes 
population" so that the Jewish population in the area of the proposed Jewish State could be 
considerably increased "without any great transference of population." ('') 

1 / Lords, 20 July 1937, col.651. 

/ Parliamentary Debates, Commons, vol.326, (henceforth Commons), 21 July 1937, col.2250. 

/ Ben-Gurion, Memoirs, vol.4, op. cit., p. 123. 
'^ I Commons, 21 July 1937, col.2357. 
^ / Ibid., col.2294. 
^ / Ibid., col.2296. 

— 211 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Daniel Frankel was the Labour member for the Mile End division of Stepney, in the East 
End of London, an area which had a large Jewish concentration. Although a Jew, Frankel had 
never officially been associated with the Zionist movement. He was concerned that if the 
population transfer took place, it would place hundreds of thousands of Arab peasants 
(fellaheen) under feudal Arab landlords for an immeasurable length of time. 

[The semi-feudal economy was the principal factor preventing the Arab peasant from 
attaining a higher standard of living. The landlord would often take 55 per cent of the gross 
yield of the tenant farmer, whilst the usurer was paid according to a rate of interest that ran 
from 25 to 100 per cent in the period between sowing and harvesting.] Frankel felt that the 
salvation of the Arab peasants would come from working side by side with Jews in the Jewish 
State. (1) 

A similar point was made by Colonel Josiah C. Wedgwood, a distinguished military 
man. He sat as an independent Labour member and whilst remaining a member of the Labour 
Party did not acknowledge the authority of the Parliamentary Whip. Wedgwood began his 
speech by congratulating the Arabs on the admirable presentation of their case that 
afternoon. He considered that the proposed population transfer would not be just a 
transference of over two hundred thousand Arabs from Jewish to Arab territory, it would mean 
delivering the Arab peasants into the complete control of the effendi landlords. 
"Nationalism is very well, but for those 500,000 peasant cultivators in Palestine, ... their 
livelihood, comes before politics." 

Wedgwood strongly objected to "the extraordinary proposal" to transfer at least one 
hundred thousand Arabs from the proposed Jewish State; to deport them from their ancestral 
homes and plots of land, to buy land for them elsewhere "and to take them there and dump 
them." We can see that Wedgwood was making a very harsh assessment of the Peel 
Commission's recommendations, since the Report devoted many paragraphs to the need for 
careful preparation before such a transfer be implemented. 

Wedgwood complained that the Report approached transfer "as though it were a 
natural and normal thing to do" without having taken a word of evidence as to the 
acceptability of such a premise. In fact, the Peel Commission spent two months in Palestine 
and heard evidence from over a hundred witnesses. However, for most of the two months, the 
Arabs boycotted the Commission and not until the end of this period did their spokesmen give 
evidence of an extremist nature. Therefore any absence of evidence from Arabs regarding the 
acceptability of transfer was largely due to the Arab attitude towards the Commission. 

Wedgwood paralleled the proposed Palestine transfer with the deportation from Crete 
of the Mohammedan minority who had begged to be allowed to stay and even offered to 
convert to Christianity, but whose offer was not accepted. (^) Sir Arnold Wilson interjected 
that a much fairer parallel was the Panjat Canal Colonies. He said that there was in 
progress a great transfer of labour from one end of Iraq to the other. He also considered that an 
administrative operation in a small country (Palestine) in 1937, could not be compared to the 
transfer of a people from Crete to Asia Minor in 1910. C) 

Wedgwood replied, "For goodness sake let the people who are to be transplanted have 
some say in the matter before their fate is sealed." He objected to the Colonial Office's 
dictating to Parliament. [Certainty in a democratic country, the legislature should be a control 
on the Executive branch of Government.] Wedgwood considered that the House of Commons 
was a "better guardian of British honour and a better guardian of humane principles than the 
Colonial Office." (") 

In a letter to "The Times", published on the day of the Commons debate, Wedgwood 
wrote, "The 250,000 Arab cultivators in the Jewish State (the size of Kent) are to be deported 
and they will learn the fate of the 250,000 Moslems who were deported from Crete, who 
begged to be allowed to become Christians that they might stop in their homes. It was not 

' / Ibid., col.2289. 

2 / Ibid., coIs.2300-01. 

3 / Ibid., coIs.2301-02. 
* / Ibid., col.2302. 

— 212 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

thought they would become good Christians and they went to die in Turkey." (^) 

From a reading of the above comments of Colonel Wedgwood in the House of Commons 
and his letter to "The Times," one might easily conclude that Wedgwood was violently anti- 
Zionist. However, he was a strong supporter of the Zionist cause. He had promoted the idea 
of Palestine as a seventh dominion within the British Commonwealth, and had written a 
book on the subject entitled "The Seventh Dominion." This idea had even received the 
blessing of the Zionist Revisionist Party at their third world conference in Vienna in 1928. 

James Armand Edmond de Rothschild, a Liberal member of Parliament, (son of Baron 
Edmond de Rothschild, "Father of the Yishuv"), who had served in France and Palestine 
during the First World War and was Chairman of the Palestine Jewish Colonisation 
Association, began his speech by opposing the transfer proposal. "I dislike this idea of the 
transfer of Arabs elsewhere." He had hoped that the Jews and Arabs could get together and 
develop Palestine. Rothschild felt that a small Jewish State would not solve the problems 
since agitators from the Arab State would foment yet more strife in the Jewish State. He 
discounted the parallel of Greece and Turkey since there the population to be transferred was 
larger and the distances were greater than in Palestine. 

However, despite his "dislike" of "this idea", Rothschild did accept the principle of 
transfer, but with certain provisos. "The Commission envisage transfer to the new Arab State, 
but there are greater opportunities in Trans-Jordan." [To be accurate, the Peel Commission 
planned on transfer to all the areas of the proposed Arab State (including Transjordan), 
provided large-scale plans for immigration and development were executed]. "With regard to 
the urban population," continued Rothschild, "there should be scope in the towns of the new 
Arab State." (^) His prime aim here was to ensure that urban Arabs were not forced to become 
land labourers, a point also made later in the debate by Douglas Clifton Brown. 

The recommendation of the Peel Commission for the partition of Palestine placed the 
Galilee with its almost wholly Arab population within the boundaries of the Jewish State. 
The population transfer from this area was to be effected only on a voluntary basis. The Arabs 
who would not be part of this voluntary transfer troubled two Members of Parliament. 

The Conservative member. Colonel Douglas Clifton Brown considered it unfair that 
125,000 Arabs of the Galilee, including 10,000 Druze Arabs, would be forced to become citizens 
of the Jewish State. He was also concerned that if transferred, those Arabs should not be 
subjected to a topographical change. He felt it would be unfair that the Arabs of the coastal 
town of Acre who were seamen and merchants might find themselves transferred to the plains 
of Beersheba, a town at the north of the Negev desert far removed from the coast, or that 
Arabs from the hills of Northern Galilee be moved to somewhere in the plains. He suggested, 
"If nothing else could be arranged this block of Arabs should be transferred to Syria rather 
than to Jewish territory." (^) Here, Clifton Brown was exceeding the recommendations of the 
Peel Commission on the transfer of the Galilean Arabs. 

A similar issue was raised by Anthony Crossley, a Conservative member who was an 
enthusiastic supporter of the Arab cause. He said that he was not going to oppose the 
principle of partition, adding that he was the first member of the House to state, "that it was 
necessary to segregate Arab from Jew in Palestine, and to divide them." He then made two 
criticisms of the partition plan. Firstly, that the Jews had been given too much land; secondly 
that the completely Arab population in the Galilee - an area in which "there is no Jewish 
colonisation at all" - could suddenly find themselves in the Jewish State. Crossley felt that in 
order "to avoid friction in the future, it would be far better if that population was handed 
over to the Lebanon and Syria." {'•) Here we see that Crossley, a strong supporter of the Arabs, 
realised that it was necessary to separate Arabs and Jews completely, even to the extent of 
moving all the Galilean Arabs out of Palestine. 

The Labour member, Thomas Williams, who was a member of both the Executive 

/ Josiah C. Wedgwood, Letters to the Editor, The Times, (London), 21 July 1937, p. 10. 

2 / Commons, 21 July 1937, col.2320. 

3 / Ibid., cols.2309-10. 
* / Ibid., cols.2325-27. 

— 213 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Committee of the Labour Party and the Shadow Cabinet questioned the abihty of the 
Government to carry out such a transfer of population. Wilhams referred to the Peel 
Commission's suggestion that such a population transfer would call for the "highest 
statesmanship on the part of all concerned." He asked whether, when the Government 
accepted the principle of partition, they also accepted the principle of transfer and whether, 
in particular they accepted the principle of compulsory transfer in the last resort. Williams 
was convinced that the proposed transfer of the nearly quarter of a million Arabs who were 
then living within the borders of the proposed Jewish State would create a problem with 
which the Government would be incapable of dealing "unless they manifest much higher 
statesmanship than they have manifested for a long period of time." He asked whether it 
was the Government's intention to carry out the transfer of population, if partition were to be 
accepted in principle and worked out in detail, (i) 

The debate in the House of Commons was concluded, the House resolving "That the 
proposals contained in Command Paper No. 5513 (the Peel Commission Report) relating to 
Palestine should be brought before the League of Nations with a view to enabling His 
Majesty's Government after adequate inquiry, to present to Parliament a definite scheme 
taking into full account all the recommendations of the Command Paper." (^) The British 
Parliament did not reject any of the recommendations of the Peel Commission, including the 
population transfer proposal. 

Ben-Gurion, however, after reading reports of the Parliamentary debates was rather 
pessimistic, in particular in connection with the transfer proposal. In his diary entry of 22 
July, he wrote that the most doubtful item was the removal of the Arabs and in the event of 
its non-implementation, it would be just for the British to compensate the Jewish State with 
additional territory. (^) 

The Parliamentary Debates in both Houses showed a diversity of opinion regarding the 
transfer of population. Three speakers directly supported the transfer proposals as 
recommended by the Commission. Two members in suggesting that the Arab population of the 
Galilee (which was intended to become part of the Jewish State) should be transferred to 
Syria (and Lebanon), were in favour of a more comprehensive transfer than that envisaged by 
the Peel Commission. Of these five supporters of transfer, three were supporters of the Arab 
cause, having realised the necessity of removing the Arab population from the area of the 
proposed Jewish State, in order to avoid future friction. 

Two members spoke strongly against transfer. Another member began by opposing it in 
moderate terms, but during the course of his speech showed himself prepared to accept 
transfer with certain provisos. One member did not want to see a compulsory transfer. Two 
speakers were concerned that transfer might place Arab peasants under feudal Arab 
landlords. A few speakers were sceptical of the ability of the Government to effect this 
transfer. Finally, many members did not even mention the proposal to transfer population, in 
their speeches. 

Following the debate in the House of Commons, "a group of Members of Parliament 
representative of responsible pro-Arab opinion in this country" submitted a letter to Ormsby- 
Gore, which he in turn passed on to the Cabinet. (^) There were twelve signatories to this 
letter. They included Douglas Clifton Brown, Anthony Crossley and Arnold Wilson, all of 
whom had spoken on the transfer of Arabs, in their speeches in the House of Commons. 

In their letter, they wrote concerning transfer: "The principal obstacle to the successful 
formation of the proposed states is the existence of the large Arab minority within the 
borders of the Jewish State. We doubt the possibility of compulsory transference; but we do not 
question the need and desirability of transference on a voluntary basis." (') As we can see from 
this letter, even a pro-Arab Parliamentary lobby realised that it would be undesirable for 

' / Ibid., col.2342. 
2 / Ibid., col.2367. 

/ David Ben-Gurion, Handwritten Diary entry 27 July 1937, (BGA) ; Ben-Gurion, Memoirs, vol.4, op. cit., p.318. 
'^ / Ormsby-Gore to Cabinet, 11 August 1937, (PRO CAB C.P. 203(37)). 

/ 12 M.P.s to Ormsby-Gore, 29 July 1937, (PRO CAB C.P. 203(37)). 

— 214 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

Arabs to live in a Jewish state. 

Permanent Mandates Commission 

The year 1920 saw the creation of the Permanent Mandates Commission, whose function 
was to examine the reports of the various Mandatory Powers and present facts and 
recommendations to the Council of the League of Nations. 

Its thirty-second (extraordinary) session, held in Geneva, Switzerland between 30 July 
and 18 August 1937, was devoted entirely to Palestine. As in the case of the British 
Parliamentary debates, the discussions of the Mandates Commission revealed a wide 
divergence of opinion on the validity of the conclusions of the Peel Commission, in particular 
with reference to the workability of the Mandate and the desirability of partition. 

The British member of the Permanent Mandates Commission, Lord Hailey, was in 
favour of the Peel plan. He considered that a sound scheme of partition would be greatly 
preferable to a continuation of the Mandate. However, Baron Van Asbeck took the opposite 
view. The Chairman, Pierre Orts believed that partition was in harmony with the spirit of 
the Covenant of the League of Nations and of the Balfour Declaration and that it took into 
account the principle of the dual obligation towards both Jews and Arabs. However, Orts 
considered that too early an establishment of independent Arab and Jewish States might be 
dangerous and suggested instead the establishment of separate Mandates for the Jewish and 
the Arab States. 

During the course of the Commission's sessions, the British Colonial Secretary, William 
Ormsby-Gore, was subjected to both an oral and a written critical examination of the partition 
plan, including searching questions regarding the possibly compulsory transfer of population. 

At one of the early sessions, Ormsby-Gore made a general statement regarding the 
proposed population transfer. He referred to the recommendation in the Peel Report that 
efforts be made to arrange some transfer of population. "But this," said Ormsby— Gore, "will 
take time, and do not let the Mandates Commission imagine that transfers of population - 
particularly of Arab cultivators wedded for generations to their land - is going to be an easy 

He suggested that the "cause of a lot of trouble already in Palestine" had been cases 
"where Jews have acquired land and displaced the cultivators." (^) 

However, in 1931, an investigation carried out by Lewis French, into allegations that 
Jewish land purchases were leaving Arab farmers landless, had found these allegations to be 
largely groundless. 

Large tracts of land in Palestine were owned by absentee landlords, frequently residing 
in distant Arab capitals and worked by tenant farmers who were Arab peasants (fellaheen). 
Lands purchased by Jews could only be registered when the Registrar of Lands was satisfied 
that each tenant farmer involved would "retain sufficient land in the District or elsewhere 
for the maintenance of himself and his family." (^) 

Incidentally, the word "elsewhere" in this Ordinance and the phrase "other land" in a 
1922 Ordinance requiring compensation of tenants by cash or "other land", indicate that the 
British authorities did not disapprove of the transfer of Arab tenant farmers from one place to 

Ormsby-Gore warned the Commission that the transfer of Arab families out of the 
proposed Jewish State would be a "slow laborious process". He then tendered the views of his 
Government regarding the possibilities of transfer "assuming the Arabs are prepared to 
move." The Peel Report had spoken of a compulsory transfer, if necessary, for the Arabs of the 
Plains. Until then, Ormsby-Gore had made no reservations in all his pronouncements on this 
subject. This was the first time that he had spoken of the need for agreement by the Arabs to 
such a transfer. It would seem that under "cross-examination" by the members of this 
Commission, and opposition from certain quarters, including some Jewish sources, he was put on 

/ League of Nations, Permanent Mandates Commission, Minutes of the Thirty-Second (Extraordinary) Session, 
Geneva, July - August 1937, (henceforth PMC Minutes), pp.21-22. 
/ Aumann, Land Ownership in Palestine, op. cit., p. 14. 

— 215 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

the defensive and thus modified his stand on conipulsory transfer. However, at a later 
meeting of the Commission, he defended the use of the term "compulsory". 

Ormsby-Gore informed the Commission that the British Government was in favour of 
the speedy appointment of an expert body to investigate the question of transfer, in order to 
advance a solution by means of partition. The Peel Report had in fact called for the 
immediate establishment of such a body, and nearly a month earlier in his meeting with 
Weizmann, Ormsby-Gore had spoken about setting up a committee which might include Sir 
John Campbell, who had had experience in population transfer. Ormsby-Gore told the 
Commission that the British Government already had some data on the question of transfer 
from one of their most experienced agricultural officers who was confident that one hundred 
thousand Arab families could be resettled in Transjordan alone. This was apart from the 
possibilities of resettlement of Arabs within the areas of the proposed Arab State, west of the 
Jordan, (i) 

The question of a voluntary transfer as distinct from the compulsory transfer proposed by 
the Peel Commission came up during the proceedings. The Chairman of the Commission asked 
for confirmation that the "proposed transfer of the rural Arab populations would only be 
effected if these populations freely consented." Ormsby-Gore replied that that was his view 
"as at present advised." He defended the Peel Commission's use of the term "compulsory" 
saying that the Commission had felt that "after a period of trial, the possibility of using 
compulsion might be considered." [The Peel Commission did not in fact use the expression 
"after a period of trial" as suggested by Ormsby-Gore, but "in the last resort."] 

Ormsby-Gore informed the Commission that "he was not prepared to commit himself 
there and then to the principle of eventual compulsion", adding that "compulsion" involved a 
long preliminary trial period of voluntary transfer, after which the matter would be referred 
back to the League of Nations for discussion before any possible "compulsion" could take place. 
Neither the League nor the British Government, said Ormsby-Gore, should be asked to 
commit themselves at present to the principle of compulsory transfer. He added that he 
personally would hesitate to envisage a compulsory transfer to an Arab state without the 
prior agreement of the Government of the said Arab State. (^) We should note here that 
Ormsby-Gore spoke only of seeking agreement for transfer from the receiving Arab state and 
not from each individual Arab to be transferred. 

Towards the end of the proceedings, in answering a written question about the natural 
rights of the native population, Ormsby-Gore said that "he did not like talk about 
compulsory transfer." He added that he believed that quite a number of Arabs when faced 
with the fait accompli of a Jewish State would for "sentimental reasons" prefer to live "in an 
Arab atmosphere under an Arab government with Arab ways of life" rather than remain 
under a Jewish government. Ormsby-Gore was also doubtful whether Arabs would want to live 
under a Mandatory Power. He was of the opinion that provided there was a genuine Arab 
State and a genuine Jewish State, the operation of political factors would bring about a large 
voluntary transfer of population. (^) 

As will be recalled, the Peel Commission had quoted the exchange of population 
between Greece and Turkey in 1923, as a precedent. Their final observation on the subject was 
that the courage of the Greek and Turkish statesmen had been justified by the resultant 
cordial relations between these two countries. On this Ormsby-Gore asked, "The question was: 
Were responsible statesmen justified in taking not a pessimistic view, not the most optimistic 
view, but a reasonably optimistic view?" He maintained that they were. (^) 

Towards the end of the proceedings, this comparison with the Greco-Turkish transfer 
came up again in a reply given by Ormsby-Gore to a written question. He considered that the 
problem of the Arab transfer was easier even than the Greco-Turkish interchange of 
population, since the Arabs would be moving only a short distance to a society with the same 

^ / PMC Minutes, p.22. 

2 / Ibid., p. 26. 

3 / Ibid., p. 177. 
* / Ibid., p. 40. 

— 216 — 

ChaimSIMONS : Proposals to Transfer Arabs from Palestine 

language, civilisation and religion as themselves. {^) 

A major objective, if not the major objective of Zionism was a massive Jewish 
immigration from the Diaspora into Palestine. How were all these Jewish immigrants to be 
absorbed, in view of the relatively small area of the proposed Jewish State? In reply to a 
question by Mile. Valentine Dannevig, a Norwegian social worker and member of this 
Commission, regarding increasing Jewish immigration, Ormsby-Gore offered several 
alternative methods of absorbing a large Jewish immigration, including population transfer. 
He explained that the Zionists had estimated from experience gained in the last fifteen 
years, that they could "by their scientific methods enable at least three Jews to earn a 
livelihood for every one Arab who was displaced" from a given area of land. [Ben-Gurion had 
estimated at least four or five Jews for every Arab transferred.] Ormsby-Gore concluded that 
the concentration of Jewish brains, money and effort combined with the complete absence of 
restrictions, political or otherwise on Jewish immigration into the area of the proposed 
Jewish State would enable the full absorption of a large Jewish population. 

Both the Balfour Declaration and the Preamble and Paragraph 2 of the Palestine 
Mandate, state "that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious 
rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine." In the continuation of her question on 
Jewish immigration, Valentine Dannevig asked how such a transfer of Arab population could 
be effected without prejudicing these rights. To this Ormsby-Gore replied that the Mandate 
guaranteed the civil and religious rights of the Arab population of Palestine, although these 
rights had never been clearly defined. He commented that although a specific obligation 
regarding these rights would be operative in the Jewish State, "it would be fatal to the 
political, if not also to the economic success of the Jewish State for the Jews to make a ruthless 
or over-speedy attempt to get the Arabs in that State out of it." He explained that the rights 
of a native population, whether or not formally guaranteed, were in British eyes, inherent 
and known as "natural rights." (^) 

It should be noted that in his answer to Dannevig's question, Ormsby-Gore made no 
suggestion that the proposed transfer of Arabs from the Jewish State would contravene the 
terms of the Balfour Declaration or the Mandate. Nor had the six members of the Peel 
Commission who included lawyers and experienced diplomats, obviously well acquainted 
with every word of the Mandate, considered their unanimous proposal for population 
transfer, compulsory if necessary, to be incompatible with the terms of the Mandate. There is, 
of course, also the possibility that any incompatibility with the terms of the Mandate was 
felt to be irrelevant, since the Peel Commission proposed terminating the Mandate and 
replacing it by Partition. 

The Chairman of the Permanent Mandates Commission then commented that his 
understanding of Dannevig's question was of a more limited scope than that attributed to it by 
Ormsby-Gore. According to the Chairman's understan